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Neils ChildrenNeil's Children
Power Lunches, London
Thursday March 21 2013



Well, it's been a while.

Back in the early years of the twenty-first century, Neils Children were one of the key inhabitants of the post-punk psychedelic garage. Wild of hair, clad in none-more-black, staring at the world through panda eyes, the band played a distinct role in establishing the goth-ish post-punk aesthetic of the time.

It was, of course, The Horrors - old mates and muckers of Neils Children from the early days - who ended up scooping the pool with a very similar approach. In fact, when I reviewed Neils Children back in 2007, I described the band thus:

"A kind of don't-mention-The-Horrors excursion into the pointy boots and black threads zone, they come across like a bunch of weirdos whose idea of a good time is to spend all day sitting at the back table of the coffee bar, giving the customers unsettling stares."

Maybe, in that, we have a clue as to why Neils Children eventually wound down. After all, there's only so much you can achieve as an Economy Horrors.

But now, they're back. New line-up, new album, and a flurry of low-key gigs to crank things into action. And you can't get more low key than Power Lunches, this miniscule basement room beneath a Dalston coffee shop. Presumably things will get a bit bigger, a bit later - but for now, let's cram ourselves in and catch the new, rebooted, Neils Children.

Neils ChildrenThese days, Neils Children dress down, in casual indiewear. Wild hair and panda eyes are firmly in the past. So are the band's old songs: tonight, they play their new album, Dimly Lit, in its entirety.

Lurking in the gloom (the stage at Power Lunches is also dimly lit), Neils Children get their groove on. They generate a psychedelic, dreampoppy, humming and shuddering sound - rock dynamics giving way to a certain shift and shimmer.

There's still a garagey element in there, still a few ragged edges visible under the fresh paint, but it's immediately apprarent that the band's influences have shifted. They're no longer an unholy alliance of The Cure and The Count Five. Now, Neils Children seem to have been leafing through Pink Floyd's pastoral pages. There's a distinct hint of the dreamy, whimsical side of early Floyd - why, at times I half expect the band to launch into a cover of 'Cirrus Minor'.

They don't, though. It's original material all the way, in album-order, opening up with the lope and fuzz of 'At A Gentle Pace', a title which drops a pretty unavoiodable hint that the new Neils Children won't be rocking out overmuch these days. The melody, incidentally, drops a pretty unavoidable hint that Neil's Children have been listening to 'Some Velvet Morning' by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood.

So, you can spot the influences, but then I suppose you always could with Neils Children. The band's key skill was always the way in which they deployed those influences, and that still holds good now.

Brushed drums shuffle, keyboards nimbly pick their way through the rhythm, frontman John Linger delivers a chimerical croon, and the band join the dots between pensive psychedelia and their old lo-fi garage sound better than you might at first expect. And yes, the overall feel is 'pensive'. The motorik 'Turst You', a song on which Neils Children nod to similar krautrock influences that their old chums The Horrors have deployed to great effect, is the nearest thing to a killer rocker in this set.

The closing song, 'What's Held In My Hands', starts as an introspective wander around the band's freshly planted psychedelic garden, builds to a fuzzed-out climax - and that's that. There's no encore, no crowd-pleasing oldie to finish.

It'll be interesting to see where Neils Children go with their new sound - and whether their old fans are prepared to go with them. But I'll tell you this: there'll be no hard stares in the coffee bar this time round, that's for sure.

Neils Children


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For more photos from this gig, find Neils Children by name here.

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Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson except the vintage photo at the top, which was yanked off the band's Last FM page. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.
Creative Commons LicenseWords and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.