Tongue in cheek and heart on sleeve, Jeremy Neale nails it on Let Me Go Out In Style

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According to various sources, Brisbane’s Jeremy Neale has had quite a life. With early memories of seeing his twin brother jettisoned into space, dangerous stunts and, more recently, medical emergencies, it is reassuring that for his latest EP, Let Me Go Out In Style, Neale has turned to more familiar ground. Written around the lingering heartbreak and confusion that follows a break up, the subject matter may be mundane compared to some of his alleged experiences – but it does lend itself beautifully to Neale’s take on electro pop.

Jeremy Neale Hold on together

With his heart on his sleeve, tongue in cheek and plenty of 80s flair, Jeremy Neale is at his best on his latest EP Let Me Go Out In Style.

Drafting in four producers and a number of musicians to help steer the EP in what is a bit of a new direction for Neale, the resulting six tracks are slick and soulful. Skirting between a thoughtful gravity and upbeat, feel good pop, there is a lightness to the record and a pleasant sense that Neale doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Opening with title track Let Me Go Out In Style, the EP launches on a brooding note. Throbbing bass has a soft rock feel and the shimmery synths immediately pull you back to the 80’s. Neale’s baritone vocal has a new wave edge, but the retro style doesn’t run through the whole. Dreamier and more drawn out than old school electro, it’s a club tune – but one to zone out to rather than go crazy pulling shapes. The soulful Danger moves effortlessly from Prince-like slow grind and romance to an upbeat pop chorus, duetting with a female vocal feels fun against the funked up electric guitars. It’s an addictive tune, and a bit of a guilty pleasure in it’s unashamedly pop sound.

The opening riff on The Love Calling gives way to industrial beats that hint at a bigger sound that never materialises. Which isn’t a criticism, rather the opposite as Neale orchestrates evocative instrumentation without relying on theatrics for effect. So far Let Me Go Out In Style is a slightly unusual animal, there’s an undeniable 80’s vibe to it but for some reason it doesn’t feel dated. And The Love Calling suddenly makes everything clear. Broken down to it’s individual elements, synths and programmed beats, distinct bass and the occasional electric guitar could all have been nicked off Depeche Mode. But the compositions and the instrumentation style almost has a West Coast surf feel to it; it’s much more ambient and doesn’t shy away from repetitive themes that sometimes feel a bit psychedelic.

There is also a sparsity to the sound that calls up slightly empty dance halls, particularly on the more thoughtful Lifespans. Especially as Neale’s vocals ranges through octaves like a club singer crooning into the mic in front of a velvet curtain. One of the real stand out tracks on the EP is The News, a much more energetic song with some really nice riffs and a racing beat. Losing some of his smoothness, Neale’s vocal pushes out a bit more. Again bringing in the female counterpoint on the chorus, if you remember the inexplicably brilliant Alphabeat then this one has a similar sort of appeal. Also really well crafted, there are some satisfying key changes following rockier breakdowns.

Final song Hold On Together closes Let Me Go Out In Style on a kind of power pop ballad. Phoebe Imhoff’s vocals sit lower than female vocals on previous tracks, while Neale reaches up like a Michael Jackson ballad with lyrics like “Hush now just let me hold you / With closed eyes, I never meant to break your heart”. It’s a fairly short and sweet ending, and features a great play off between a sax and Spanish guitar bringing an old fashioned romantic feel, like some true original pop.

Moving full circle from the achingly uncool to the point where it’s so hip it makes your teeth hurt, Jeremy Neale treads the line pretty perfectly. Though he might play up to a tongue in cheek persona, Let Me Go Out In Style showcases some serious writing from Neale. Underneath the feel good simplicity and light touch, it takes some real skill to produce pop music like this. Enjoy.

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