Listen to me! LISTEN. TO. ME! You DO NOT press that play button until you are sure—abso-freaking-lutely SURE—that you can handle being teleported back to the 80s. Like, instantaneously. You’ll only be there for 20 minutes before the temporal vortex sucks you back through, but it’ll be total immersion. Look at that cover. Look! Pixelated art. Pure 8-bit with a little bit of Blade Runner and Neuromancer homage thrown in. That’s what you’re getting yourself into, okay? Is it cheesy? Yes. Yes, but in the way that electro-pop and synth-drums and 808s were cheesy even back in the day and you know it but they still drive that urge to get up and dance. Hex Phase from Neon Shudder revels in dousing itself in nostalgia as potent as cheap cologne and then swaggering its way down the street. Oh, it knows you’ll be playing it loud. And probably giggling a little at how over-the-top we used to sound. You really think you’re going to deny the warbly techno style that kicks in on “Petrichor” and the bass line it stole from Yaz’s house? No, you most certainly are not. Or what about when the dramatic-chord-driven, bass-note-punctuated thoughtfulness of “Calm Before the Storm” is looking you in the eye and closing out the album with a meaningful pout (and probably an open shirt blowing in a phantom wind)? No, if you have even a shred of love for this stuff left in your heart, you’re going to crank up Hex Phase, have fun with it, and come back to it now and then. Truth be told, the cheese factor is good for one straight listen but then I think it gets relegated to the shuffle queue where its throwback magic can run into the room, shout “Remember me?” and make everybody happy for a couple minutes. But for now, put on those Ray-Bans, pop your collar or throw on a skinny tie, and teleport.
Available from Neon Shudder’s Bandcamp page.