Felix da Housecat Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever
Those of us who spent the '80s watching action figure advertoons and siphoning quarters into Arkanoid may lack a real awareness of how that era's nightlife operated. But hindsight has blessed (or cursed) many a twentysomething club-goer with hazy fantasies of a decade when Don Johnson clones and replicant Daryl Hannahs made pilgrimages to the Hacienda in coke-money Testarossas. It's difficult to confront that decadent age from our current standpoint without the lenses of kitsch and sleaze--just ask your garden-variety electroclash also-ran. But house music veteran Felix da Housecat stealthily plays against the genre's expectations even as he puts the '80s under a garish macroscope.
Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever is, on a superficial level, a concept album about a well-meaning guy corrupted by nightlife, with ladette delinquents and malfunctioning sexbots thwarting his attempts to remain sane and sober. The antagonistic sport-fuck enthusiast who sings on "Hunting Season" comes on like an XX-chromosome Vince Neil, bragging about her ability to sucker in boyfriends before ditching them like last night's emptied mini-bar bottles. And yet those unlucky guys' fate is decidedly better than that bestowed by the dildo-thieving punk-rock girls of "Short Skirts," who reveal that the quickest way to break a man's heart is to leave high-heel imprints on his spine.
The album is fueled by the kinds of beats that drive people to undergo these insane courting rituals: "Rocket Ride" and "Everyone Is Someone in LA" provide the perfect soundtrack for a Liquid Sky/Desperate Teenage Lovedolls double feature where the reels get mixed up. "Ready 2 Wear" boasts a polished Pet Shop Boys insouciance and the most detached reading of the line "You are a star" ever put to record. And the galloping discoid nu-wave of "Nina" sneaks in a rockabillied riff on the Top Gun theme that floats like Repo Man's alien-possessed Chevy Malibu. Rock-think reactionaries may dismiss such paeans to synth-pop and electro as wink-wink cheese food for retro ironists, but Felix knows better. Born in Detroit, raised in Chicago during the '80s, he has consolidated his coming-of-age experiences into a shimmering dance-floor roots record.
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