‘Absolute Magnitude’ is the debut album from Neon Atlas, the brainchild of Cork-based singer-songwriter Kieran Ring and producer Ciaran O’Shea. The nine tracks that comprise the LP were entirely performed by the duo themselves and are radio-ready pop-rock tunes crammed with infectious hooks and shimmering with glossy production.
Ring’s vocals are as clear and fragile as glass, and delivered in a regionless mid-Atlantic drawl. Layered harmonies are used liberally throughout the album, as well as some subtle vocal enhancing effects, which shouldn’t be a focus for criticism as they serve more as just that – an effect – as opposed to a crutch to aid vocal inabilities. The performance is more a charming, genuine one than a display of amazing pipes and vocal acrobatics. The lyrics are delivered, the melody is carried and that’s just enough for the style of music that Neon Atlas play.
Musically, ‘Absolute Magnitude’ has enough variety to keep listeners enticed from beginning to end. Opening track ‘Where Are We Now’ is a bonafide indie disco floorfiller and is followed by ‘Juniper’, which is tailor made for mainstream radio. The album shows off Ring’s talent as a balladeer and O’Shea’s talent as a producer in equal measure, tracks like ‘Spoken, Echoes In Your Sleep’, and ‘Demon Days’ illuminated with bright synth sounds and tasteful mock-orchestras. Album highlight ‘Out Of Time’ is a delicious slice of angsty grunge-pop with a hook big enough to make Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo green with envy. The diversity heard on ‘Absolute Magnitude’ is both a blessing and a curse, however, as the album sounds more like a collection of songs than a cohesive, coherent album.
All in all, on ‘Absolute Magnitude’, Neon Atlas have cooked up a batch of warm, fuzzy, inoffensive pop rock tunes with enough songwriting chops to keep even the most hard to please music listener interested. The Cork duo have a future as bright as their music.