We’re all guilty of addiction. For some, this addiction manifests itself immaterially – addiction to love or addiction to a smell. For others, addiction is palpable – to food or drugs or sex. For many, this addiction is technology; it may be a subtle distraction (or it may be a very real issue in your life), but no matter how much you deny it, it’s there.
For Ryan Nebauer – aka Neighbour – this is cause for great concern, and the impetus for a great song; it’s called Alexander Graham Bell and it’s a ripper.
Ryan Nebauer – aka Neighbour – takes aim at the grip of addiction to technology so prevalent the modern world on Alexander Graham Bell.
Nebauer is a solo artist from Brisbane playing under the moniker Neighbour. He flew onto our radar about about a year back with his charming EP Good Company, written following the demise of his old band Fushia during a long trip around Europe. After taking a six month break to hone in on a new sound Nebauer is back with his most accomplished work to date.
Performing solo as Neighbour, Nebauer’s voice is very much the centrepiece of his music. Instrumentally, his style has shifted over time: Good Company was full of pianos, acoustic guitars and other folk mainstays; on his more recent single Space Camp, electronic elements were introduced, hinting at a change in direction that was never quite followed up. But throughout all this stylistic ducking and weaving, focus has never strayed from Nebauer’s vocals; and for good reason.
“There you are facing at that screen / that stupid thing has robbed your time / to look back at me / I’d like to think I can catch your eye,” Nebauer croons in the opening seconds of Alexander Graham Bell. With crisp diction and a slightly nasal inflection he is a charismatic singer – a storyteller with a directness that is hard not to like right away. The track waves its way through words that feel like a one-sided conversation, imploring an unknown person (or the entire world) to get their faces out of their phones – to break the addiction.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/278437268?secret_token=s-WH9or” params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”600″ iframe=”true” /]
Musically, the song compliments this lyrical motif well, with a collection of warm instrumentation sitting comfortably as a foundation for Nebauer’s vocals to sit upon. The piano and acoustic guitar that were so prominent on Good Company make a triumphant return here, as do the some subtle electronic nuances that Nebauer tried out on Space Camp in the form of some caressingly synths and toy-like keyboard melodies.
This combination, along with the rollicking drums and scattering tambourines, reflects an artist that was well and truly found their pocket. Alexander Graham Bell is an inspired return for Neighbour, one that sees him taking on the world lyrically, and taking things to a new level musically. Now get off your phone and go see him play a show:
August 26 – Melbourne – the Penny Black
August 27 – Melbourne – Toff In Town
Sep 4 – Townsville – Flinders Social
Sep 9 – Brisbane – Milk Factory
Sep 10 – Sunshine Coast – Nook & Cranny