Julian Lamadrid’s newest album, Rebels of the Neon God, narrates a euphoric escape from an alter-dimension world he created on his own. Completely dodging the typical “Sophomore Slump” of the second album, the young 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist proves his ability to bend and create with the newest project.
Not a second wasted after the intro track, “Rebels,” Lamadrid launches with full force with the anthemic and agonizing second track, “Fight.” An out-of-body, fight-or-flight emotional rollercoaster, “Fight” is raw to the bone and an explosion of passion. In comparison, the following track, “Drunk,” paints a scene of a risqué escape from the agony. Fun and vibrant, the track evolves into an electro-disco dance party, before it gradually melts down to a vulnerable self soliloquy once again:
“Falling under / I was undercover / But now I couldn’t bother / And I want you to step inside my room you’ll see / I got the love to set you free / Why don’t you come and follow me?” Lamadrid sings in a luring and gentle tone as the track closes.
Once Lamadrid finishes establishing the groundworks, the album continues to reveal its facade in a blend of genres. “Cigarette” gives a similar experience to everyone’s first listen of Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” in 2014 and sounds like The 1975’s “Love It If We Made It.” “One More Trip” contains many different musical sections strung together with a captivating synth. Particularly, the guitar built-up stands out and contours the track during the breakdown in a frenzy. There’s also the Spanish bullfighting, Broadway-esque “Blue,” and the Cyndi Lauper/Troye Sivan/Years & Years blend that is “Pressure.”
Despite the way the pre-closure track “Lift Me Up” narrates the concept of The Neon God in details, it feels oddly like an autobiography at the same time. Structurally, it echoes with the second track, “Fight.” “Lift Me Up” provides a similar explosion of emotions, undeniably an out-of-body narration of an otherworldly experience. Though vague, the track defines “The Neon God” for the first time in the album: It is not an actual ritual figure but a version of Julian Lamadrid himself. In fact, “The Neon God” is the most vulnerable side of the artist. At times, this side could be destructive; but for the most part, “The Neon God” is the most fundamental and foundational part to his artistic identity and even self identity.
As a body of work, Rebels of the Neon God features an exceptionally wide range of genres, creating a rich and flavorful texture throughout the listening experience. It gets built and destroyed and reconstructed. Built, destroyed, and reconstructed, over and over again. The album closes out with the track “The Neon God,” a theatrical infusion of hip-hop and indie pop, finally coining down the coming-of-age nature of the album.
“Just feel what you’re feeling / And know it’s alright / Tomorrow will be different / Everything is fine,” closing out the album on an anthemic note, Lamadrid paints one last stroke of a new horizon for his artistic journey.