The Neybas 2022
Connecticut collective throw a party in the ghostly ‘hood that never sleeps – or not allowed to drowse.
This crew may not make life easy for any player by virtually squatting in a titular decrepit inn to unfold an album, their fifth, of an astounding stylistic variety, but that’s exactly what makes it all exciting for the listeners who accompany the quintet down the corridors where thrills, in the form of mementos previous lodgers left behind, await fresh discovery around every corner. Going to the attic is optional, though, because the music the group dole out here comes across as very much down-to-earth despite frequent turns and twists of the record’s flow – following up on 2019’s “Flow” which wasn’t a concept offering, unlike “Sunshine Hotel” on which feelgood message will be beamed in at various places, for the same characters to drive the story and keep the quintet’s guests engaged in an adventure.
The proceedings begin from the scene-setting shuffle of the title track which is awash with pedal steel that takes queer-tolerant Americana to a dancefloor before the Latino-tinctured groove of “Something About Her” start to seem unbearably attractive, stripping patina off dusty postcards to reveal their lustrous colors and letting the pop-punk of “Hey Cinderella” add a sharper edge to the ensemble’s sonic palette. They’re not averse to serving up a retrofuturistic pastiche in the deliberately lackadaisical “Aliens Have Taken My Brain” and allowing acidic guitars to buzz-saw the catchy rhythm courtesy of Kevin Bornstein’s and Emmet Hale’s drums as well as to countrify the drift of “The Doorman” with its welcoming chorus. Still, if the riff-armored ska of “Sunshine Girl” arrives quite unexpected, Russ Waesche vocals wear this weight proudly, while other instrumentalists show total abandon in their rocking, until the hilarious, reggae-shaped narrative of “A Little 2 Hi” gets carried away onto the ganja-scented cloud and the piano-laden calypso of “Crank This Up” becomes grippingly self-referential, the “Neybas might be your solution” line calling the ‘hood to join in the fun.
So there’s no surprise in the ’60s-influenced warmth of “Big Love (The Doorman’s Theme)” and in the punchy balladry behind “The Girl I Knew Yesterday” which pitches innocence in the platter’s heart, but the throbbing “Song About Sunshine” that picks up where The Fabs’ “Rain” left off is whining with a lot of gusto, and the bubbling, effervescent finale “Freeway Paradise” rolls down the road with a lot of grace as a perfect driving ditty. So even though America has plenty of old establishments, “Sunshine Hotel” should be the one to stay in and never want to check out.