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ALBUM REVIEW: BP Valenzuela – The Neon Hour (2015)

April 2, 2015 8:01 am by: Category: Albums Leave a comment

The mere mention of B.P. Valenzuela’s name has the potential to set the blogosphere ablaze. Only a little over two years in the thick of the music scene has propelled her into internet stardom; she seems to be a canonical figure in the pantheon of the current college music scene, and all the buzz is deserved. After all, where there is smoke, there probably is a fire, and The Neon Hour is the physical manifestation of that incandescent flame. The first full-length effort of the electro-pop wunderkind is an album teeming with youthful vivacity, one that is full of intricate, intimate details, and numerous possibilities. There were great expectations, and they were met.

If any of the songs in this album were to be shaken, not one of them would rattle, and nothing would have been able to fall out. The music, the listener’s first point of contact with the album, exhibits a borderline obsession with detail: umpteen layers of synths piling upon each other, microscopic details that pop out at key moments, pulsating beats, and infectious melodies are all seamlessly woven into an intriguing tapestry of sound. The album’s production is tight, unyielding, yet contains enough space for B.P.’s fractured voice to be employed as another instrument that contributes to the multi-colored point where all of the threads converge; all of the noises are necessary. Individual songs work plucked from the context of the album stand well enough on their own, but their impact is heightened by placing them in this collection and in this specific order; the album seems to be operating on a feeling: the romantic immediacy of youth. The Neon Hour appears to be in constant motion, seemingly indeterminate yet stable.

The vocal performances on the record run the gamut from frail whispers (that bend and ascend into heartbreaking falsettos) to vitriolic jolts (that are packed with a wide array of emotions), and fit perfectly into the general scheme of the album. Even the cameos of Curtismith and Twin Lobster’s Nick Lazaro (on “Veneers” and “The Fury and Sound”, respectively) elevate the songs to new emotional heights, levels that can only be reached by sincerity, which is perhaps the greatest strength of this album.

The Neon Hour finds B.P. Valenzuela at her most vulnerable, delving into the deepest creases of the self, and raising the emotional stakes of her material to altitudes made accessible to her by her experiences, in order to explore “the grey areas of love, alienation, loss, separation, melancholy, aimlessness, restlessness, and the city rendered in different energies” as she follows the beats that echo the beating of her heart, which she appears to be wearing on her sleeve, baring all she to offer to her audience. (Itos Ledesma)

Rating: A-

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