Digital DNA, Neo Geo’s second album is a completely competent, professionally produced hard rock record. It’s no surprise that the band’s official bio namechecks fellow Orange County, California, residents Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry, because lead singer Rainy Terrell is clearly influenced by both women. Musically, the band draws upon a diverse but predictable set of benchmarks. “One Way Ticket” is a hard-hitting synth-rock track that almost makes its dubstep breakdowns work, but not quite. Then Terrell makes the whole thing laughable when she, completely straight-faced, whispers, “There’s something I’ve been hiding / A secret you must keep / Now’s the time to tell you / I’m an alien.” The dance-style track “Superstar?” spends its running time berating teenage girls in LA for trying to be pop stars while simultaneously making a bid for the same throne. This could be ironic satire in more mature hands, but Neo Geo isn’t there yet. “Sunshine State” is a sensitive piano-and-strings power ballad with unconvincing whining about addiction. The blatant Stefani-isms of “Shakedown” make that track sound like a rejected b-side from No Doubt’s Return of Saturn era.
When the band sticks to straight-up hard rock they fare better. Terrell’s lyrics always leave a lot to be desired, but the music in tracks like “Are You With Me”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “White Eyes” is at least entertaining. But like many young bands that exist in the fuzzy area between rock, punk, metal and pop, Neo Geo sounds like they’re trying way too hard to be cool and not having much fun doing it.
// Notes from the Road
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