If you’re familiar with TimeSlave Recordings, and you should be because not only have we covered many artists under their umbrella but they’re also one of the best synthwave labels out there today, then you may be familiar with Kid Neon. As one half of the founding brothers of TimeSlave Recordings, the music of Kid Neon has appeared on some of their past compilations such as Future Sounds Vol.1 [and the Redux], A Taste of the Future, Fear the Future Vol.1, and Project TSL01. In fact, if you purchased all of these compilations, you’ll find that about half the songs on Darker Days can also be heard on these previously released collections. However, this factoid is not to belittle the accomplishments that this album has itself collected as there are remastered and even remixed versions of said songs to be found within. Beyond that it is simply a long overdue spotlight for Kid Neon to truly shine on his own after sharing that spotlight for so long, to which he shines so very brightly indeed.
Which, I suppose, is an odd juxtaposition with an album entitled Darker Days but even still the first track “Electric Sky” helps to set the general mood with its overall chill vibe as it ebbs and flows along the spectrum of synth. It’s almost as if it’s riding the edge of those waves that exist between that aforementioned light he now finds himself encapsulated in and those proverbial Darker Days. This feeling continues in “Asteroid Boy Returns,” one of those previously released songs that have been remixed, remastered, and it is here that you get your first taste of the improvements that Kid Neon has made in such a small amount of time. I have mentioned this before, but I believe it always bear repeating: it’s an amazing listening experience to hear an artist redo their work. It shows their growth, their acquired range, and true talents shining through. I mean, how about that newly implemented guitar work? Impressive. Most impressive.
“Turtle Soup” as a song title got a little bit of a smirk out of me, which became a full blown chuckle once I heard a certain voice cue used throughout the track, although this isn’t to suggest that it’s a comedy song or joke. In fact, it perfectly encapsulates that close quarters feeling of being underground, silently sneaking around like a ninja, and being a hero in a half shell. With “Transcending Redux” we go from below to up high as the track gives off some spacewave vibes, echoing across time, rising with every beat and getting faster as it proceeds out towards the stars. Perhaps too close as “Code Red” is almost siren like, especially with the killer synth solos heard throughout along with muffled voices crying out.
“The Road” easies us back into those earlier chillwave like feelings, conjuring up images of riding with the top down, the wind in your hair, and the sun setting as well; you can almost imagine this is how the album cover would have looked before the the stars came out to play. Which is exactly what they do in “Spaceborn,” another song where those otherworldly synths flex their muscles, alongside vocal cues that sound like they’re coming straight from mission control as the theremin like sounds certainly help add to the ambience.
“Bubble Yum” is an interesting track due to the fact that, at least to me, I can hear quite a bit of chiptune influence and almost feel as though, by listening to this song, I have just discovered a long lost track from some old video game in the process; perhaps the official arcade adaptation of They Live? “Faraway Land” once again brings back that chill to the air, producing a real head bobbing, toe tapping, and finger drumming on your steering wheel track that’s perfect for those end of the summer drives. Indeed, with the last track of the album, “Darker Days (We Are The Last)” could itself very well signal the end of the summer as we know it with it’s haunting atmosphere; the tides have truly turned. What lies ahead?
Well, for one thing, you can help Kid Neon out by pre-ordering Darker Days on vinyl through Qrates! But you’d best be quick because, much like the summer, this offer will not last for much longer as there are only 100 copies being made and over half of them are already gone!
Kid Neon can be found on Twitter.