Neve - Neve - Album

With a single firstname music maker like this, you would probably expect some little North American female who sings forlornly about how she hates men but still loves them really and other such Alanis styled rantings. Instead Neve consists of four males hailing from College Rockville, USA. (Or Los Angeles, California to be geographically correct).

The band first came into public view in 1999 with a classic “college rock” song, “It’s Over Now” on the soundtrack to my teachers an alien flick, “The Faculty”. From this the band gained a huge following, me included, particularly on the ‘net where they gained the unofficial title of “most supported band on the Internet” for a while. This may have been sustained by the fact that Sony Records kept stalling the release date for their eponymous album, fuelling the fervour. The album was finally unleashed during the middle of 2000, although it’s taken the 9 months or so for me to get my hands on a copy. So was it worth the wait?

The opener, “Digital On” is a power chord frenzy. A pleasing, if text book, college rock song, (see Matchbox 20, Nine Days, Goo Goo Dolls – the post punk version, 3rd Eye Blind, any of the more upbeat songs on ‘Dawson’s Creek’ etc) it’s got a nice sing along chorus and is an upbeat, competent start.

“Six Feet Under” follows on in the tradition of the first track, if slightly slower. John Stephens, the lead singer, shows a different vocal style. The vocals are warmer, less raucous than the initial track, although the lyrical content dictates this, “So long/I won’t forget to write/Cause I’ve tried but my world was so much colder” Not exactly a happy go lucky summer song.

It’s with the third track where this album begins to shine. “It’s Over Now”, the aforementioned track from “The Faculty” soundtrack. Another of the more delicate Stephens vocal pieces, this is a wonderful track. The track begins softly enough with a single guitar, but soon envelops drums, bass and a second guitar. The song is rather upbeat in tempo, although it is another melancholy one in terms of lyrics, “you don’t ever understand/it’s right here in our hands/the outline of our lives/it’s over now”. The chorus develops into a boisterous sing a long and with a fantastic guitar bridge in the middle, this is a memorable song.

“Motor” takes the sheen off slightly as it fails to live up to the previous track. It’s not bad, although takes after the first 2 on the album, medium to fast paced with a powerfully sung chorus. Unfortunately track 5 “Same Old Story” also follows this trend too. The band seem to have got stuck in a rut, with only “It’s Over Now” pulling them out of it.

Fortunately they take a different tack with “Absent”. This is a much slower song, much more dramatic and emotional than the previous “power cord”-fest. It’s not perfect, as the opening verse has a very annoying vocal and infuriating guitar piece, but this soon is washed away in the body of the track.

“Freeform” shows a much harder side to the band, but once again the sing a long chorus rears its head. Stephens, the main writer as well as lead vocalist can’t seem to get away from boisterous, full-on, upbeat chorus lines.

The least said about “Skyfall” and “Trip and Glide” the better. Vocals that seem out of tune and annoying tunes, the album definitely takes a turn for the worst here.

It redeems itself somewhat with “3 Years”, a truly heartfelt and highly impassionedly charged song by Stephens, trying to get his lover of 3 years to stay with him and “don’t waste the last 3 years”. Sweeping strings are overlain with pretty impressive harmonies and unassuming guitar work.

“Anything” is another guitar-fest, but one of the ones that works this time. Backed up by harsh and angry lyrics “You won’t get anything from me”, it spits and snarls (as best a College Rock band can) through 3 minutes of faux punk.

“Step Up” is just bland. It doesn’t introduce anything new into the album, its just there to fill the album out, but at 13 tracks anyway, it’s one that have been left out. That leaves “Drift”. Another slow, emotionally charged one, about Stephens’s girlfriend (surprisingly!), it is a bit strange in the lyric department. Somehow he manages to get tectonic plate movement into a love song “It’s continental drift”. It’s a good choice as the end track though.

Throughout the album, the stand out tracks have been the slightly slower, more emotion filled ones. Stephens voice lends itself perfectly to this sub-division of college rock and produces some outstanding tracks. The faster ones are more hit and miss though. A few work, but a few are just grating to say the least. Overall, I’m quite impressed with the album, although there are a few totally awful tracks and it could be said that the album does lack originality, as there are basically 2 track types, fast and slow. However the genre of music that Neve play isn’t famous for new and innovative tracks. There’s a huge market for this genre in America, and Neve fit neatly into the middle of it, without causing to many upsets.


Released on Portrait Records, a division of Columbia Records USA.

by Fraser Reid - 1-6-2001

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