Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Lonely Hearts Preservation Society

Have you ever put off listening to something for a long time because you were afraid it was going to disappoint you? I hope so, because I don't want to be the only dummy who's committed so much time not to not listening to an album they wound up really digging. The album in question today is Lonely Hearts Club by Neila, an extremely limited cassette-only album.

This is described in the liner notes as "a rough four track epilogue as my four track is slowly deteriorating and losing function, as do relationships," adding, "your instructions are to listen to this tape, burn it, and start over. life is too short." Well, I'm not burning mine! I'm squirreling it away along with all my art treasures. It's dated as 1999-2005, because that's the lifespan of her four track recorder, but then she still used it to make this last tape? I know she talked about recording this album in 2010 and... I don't know.

What I do know is that it's really good. It's a full-length album of ten songs, and the theme of lonely hearts and broken relationships definitely runs through it all. It's definitely got a funky, low-fi feel, where static-y snippets from movies and television clumsily drop in to introduce layered hip-hop tracks, where Neila alternates between traditional raps and her sing-songy style, which she sometimes uses for hooks and sometimes entire songs. The last song on side 1 even cuts off before its over because the tape runs out - now that's a classic 4-track hip-hop move, like those old Sacred Hoop tapes.

Production duties are shared by three guys: Vango, Sakari and Messiaz, plus I'm guessing the uncredited songs are produced by Neila herself. They've all got a knack for supporting Neila's vocal and writing style, so that plus the the unifying melancholy vibe makes this actually one of Neila's more uniformly satisfying albums. The songs are distinct, mind you; but you still want to take it all as one giant, inseparable listen, just absorbing Neila's raw sometimes artistically codified, and other times openly straight-forward self expression. But I can't think of many hip-hop albums that feel so nakedly like the artist poured their entire heart into it. And as O.C. famously said, "the more emotion I put into it, the harder I rock."

"Things are crashing down;
I'm swimming upstream.
Only enough left,

To fill one more dream.
Let's hide away,
Let's shout and scream.

Let's realize
That we can't say what we mean."

Just like I was hesitant to listen to this when I first got it, I've been hesitant to blog about it, but for a different reason. It's super limited and several years old now, and basically impossible to find. It was initially limited to 77 copies, and I was lucky enough to get a special copy, personally, making mine #79/77. It's a cool red, hand-numbered cassette with fold-out artwork by Neila herself. I don't want to frustrate people by dangling them an impossible to obtain album in front of them, but I also don't think it needs to be burned for us to start over. So I'll keep it alive in writing here and who knows? Maybe it'll get fancy a digipack repress when the next generation of fans comes knocking for more Neila music.

1 comment:

  1. so happy to have this, props to neila putting it out and you blogging about it. don't you have a post with a photo of all neila's releases? I didn't see it as tagged neila here at the blog. Love ya guy! look it up on bandcamp.