Despite releasing material as far back as 2010, it wasn’t really until 2018’s ‘That Dog Won’t Hunt’ (released via Mom’s Basement Records in the US) that German pop punk band Neon Bone started to be noticed by a wider audience. Although the production values of that album sounded a little woolly in places, it was a huge step up from previous works and the song writing proved more than solid. Mixing Ramonescore riffs and bubblegum choruses, the material paraded itself in a way that was instantly appealing to fans of Teen Idols, classic Parasites and even early Weezer. The follow up disc (2020’s ‘Make It Last’) brought more of the same and should’ve been enough to keep fans happy for the foreseeable future, but Neon Bone followed that in double quick time, with the ‘I Wanted You To Know’ EP hitting digital platforms a few months later.
Whether this EP’s songs are album leftovers or are a product of Neon Bone having a burst of pandemic lockdown related creativity isn’t really that important. The most vital thing here is the quality of the material itself, and these four songs could easily stand alongside the previous couple of LPs. ‘Why Did You Go Away’, especially, adds some classic punk to the band’s canon with a tautly played riff drawn straight from Ramones’ ‘Leave Home’, whilst its repetitious lyric fuses a bubblegum charm to a melody that’s one part Teen Idols and three parts Joey and Johnny’s ‘Swallow My Pride’ repurposed for a new generation. ‘Put It On A Rest’ stretches things out to mix some great pop punk with a huge swathe of power pop, allowing a simple lead guitar riff to cut through some mid-tempo power chords. In many ways, it’s a valiant attempt at something more commercial, but the more sedate song writing requires more time for it to register. As with a lot of Neon Bone’s best material, the music is more important than the lyric, so regardless of what you feel about the repetitious vocal, the clean lead guitar will definitely make an impression somewhere around the third listen.
‘Island of Dreams’ reverts to the full on pop punk with a full quota of pop punk guitars buzzing away relentlessly throughout a number that’s heavily influenced by Screeching Weasel and The Queers (though thankfully sidesteps Ben’s anger issues and Joe’s dodgy politics/social stance), and despite being generic, still has plenty of appeal via a rather old school vocal. Rounding everything out, the title track shows off a very buoyant style driven by a barrage of classic pop punk chords while another relatively melodic vocal give a decent insight into seasoned punk musicians at work. It might lack a tuneful solo, but a dramatic key change into a mid section sharing a love of 60s pop will do enough to remind everyone of the band’s oft-melodic core. Although operating within something of a Neon Bone comfort zone, a repeated vocal hook will also drive home the same kind of Ramones love carried by many Lookout! Records bands half a generation earlier, creating a decent all-round melodic punk workout.
Whether you’re already a fan or Neon Bone is an unfamiliar name to you, this is a pop punk release that’s well worth checking out. It very much plays to type and never tries anything particularly new, but between some timeless riffs and a couple really strong choruses, these songs – as lowbrow and simple as they may seem – will definitely be a worthy addition to your punk collection. Recommended.