Neoplastic make angular, guitars like wires scraping across broken glass, crisp pounding sometimes vaguely tribal drumming, post-punk music. I guess this is the post-punk that many people think of when they hear the phrase post-punk. Whilst I disagree with defining post-punk as this sound (Look I’m not going to repeat that here, just read some of my other reviews) this kind of sound sits with what I might describe as the sound that was around just after punk, coming from punk; for yes, indeed Neoplastic’s sound is punk.
‘Monday in Heaven’ marks another change in sound for the band, the sound here is more raucous – more punky if you will, darker, scarier, more disturbing and more difficult to listen to. I mean this last in a good way, a very good way.
Let’s start here with the vocals. A tortured voice shouts words that are dark. And those words speak of our society, the way it excludes and leaves behind those people that don’t fit in, the different, the outsiders.
“It takes a look at the way we form our societies and the ones that get left behind. It’s about the people for whom the world isn’t built, and those who don’t have a voice. They’re the ones that our society is built on, but not really built for”, says singer and bassist Leo Joslin.
Yes, look I’m aware that this is not an unusual theme in post-punk; the music and its fans often sit on the very edge of society or completely separated. But Neoplastic mutates that theme into something which relates to our society now. It’s commentary.
And the voice sits under and in this sound. This raw sound that somehow communicates anxiety and anger. A powerful tumbling sound that draws you into the dark shadows, takes you on a journey to the very edge of chaos. Guitars scythe with frenetic power, guitars hypnotise with subtle darkness. The drumming goes from all out pounding to a section that employs beautifully played cymbals that is oh-so subtle. And as the music reaches the point where you think it’s going to fall over into noise, odd sounds suddenly ring out.
And yes, the band tips a musical hat to the original post-punk – there is that hint of Bauhaus that sits there in the mix, as does ‘The Scream’ period Banshees. But they add in a delicious touch of psych garage, in the way the music almost falls over into chaos. And do I detect something of a kraut-rock sound.
This is not retro or copyist; Neoplastic have a sound that sits on classic post-punk – enough so that older post punk fans like me can get it immediately – but it incorporates other genres. It is modern post-punk, they’ve respectively taken the bones of the old style, and then with a ‘thank you but we are going to take this to places you couldn’t imagine’ they turned forwards and made their own sound, their own music.
This is not, as I said, easy listening either lyrically or musically but there is beauty in this. There is beauty because this song is all about storytelling, mood, atmosphere. The words drive the music, the music reinforces the meaning. The subject is dark and difficult, so the sound and delivery suits this.
I’ve followed all of Neoplastic’s releases and with each release they take their sound in another direction. It’s entirely possible that their next will sound completely different. But crucially each release is yet another step up, a peak. ‘Monday in Heaven’ does that, it’s their current peak, and it’s just perfect.