My first experience of Neon Sarcastic was a scratchy demo of their song ‘Cheer Up, Emo.’ I remember being amused by their enthusiasm but very sure there was no chance of this band going much further than MySpace. The first NS gig I attended only supported my belief as I recall thinking that the only bright lights those boys would see were the ones bouncing off lead vocalist John Willson’s peroxide-blond head. Six years later I find myself humbled having witnessed their metamorphosis from a screechy, back-alley group of pop punk boys into a mature, well-rounded band bordering on alternative rock.
I have always believed that NS pack a more powerful punch with their ballads in comparison to their upbeat tracks. Now I’m not talking about a Whitney Houston ‘I Will Always Love You’, but rather a Good Charlotte ‘Hey Dad’ effect. The slower, steadier pace always presented more cohesion in the band rather than the usual disjointed bangs and riffs. ‘Lost In The Dark’ is a full-bodied track that emphasises the growth in this band. One could attribute this to the members being slightly older and well-versed in the ways of life, but regardless of reason this track is far more substantial than their previous albums in sound and structure.
At first sight the lyrics to ‘Lost In The Dark’ can be seen as self-righteous, cruel and a bit ‘ass-holey.’ However, when reviewing them from the singer’s perspective one can see honesty with hints of complexity. “I’m not trying to say this won’t work, I’m just trying to keep you from getting hurt” – a sincere lyric displaying some consideration of the soon to be dumped party’s emotions. Yet, the sudden switch to “I’m not paranoid, I didn’t do anything wrong” and “remember, class can’t be bought”, shows that bi-polar switch between altruism and self-interest that is so evident in almost all 21st century relationships.
The stories and messages in NS songs are always crafted in such a way that they are easily understood by fans, old and young. This fan has always found the tales of the ballads far more gripping than their upbeat tracks. Naturally I will be hoping for more slower songs on their future albums, but with this more sophisticated sound I am curious to hear the livelier tunes as well.