Stainless Style was a concept album loosely based around the life of maverick stainless steel car maker John DeLorean, and its seemingly effortless Eighties synthpop sheen provided a perfect musical backdrop for the biographical account of an extraordinary life that both peaked and crashed during that very decade.
Praxis Makes Perfect continues the concept of dedicating an entire album to the life of a leftfield individual – in this case we get an album structured around the life of Italian political activist and publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
Given that Feltrinelli himself died in 1972 – suicide, an explosive one – I was initially wary that Neon Neon might discard the style and production used to such good effect on the debut, and instead give us something even more retro as the accompanying soundtrack.
I needn’t have been concerned, it turns out that Praxis Makes Perfect is every bit as faithful to the shiny synthpop style that worked so well five years ago, despite any apparent lack of surface synergy the genre might have with a man whose own public profile peaked in the Fifties and Sixties.
But Rhys and Hollon do this stuff so well it immediately feels both fully formed as a musical work, and pretty well realised as a concept piece. Praxis Makes Perfect is not without its moments of cheese, and there are perhaps issues with the notion that any sort of biograph-concept album can be squeezed into a timespan of less than 32 minutes (10 tracks), but however else you cut it, the album still stands as a fine collection of well written pop tunes.
There’s a lost-in-the-Eighties boyish energy about this pair, a wry humour to be found in some of their lyrics, and while Praxis Makes Perfect may not have yet reached the critical heights of its predecessor, Neon Neon deliver another good one second time out.
Download: ‘The Jaguar’ (clip below), ‘Mid Century Modern Nightmare’.