CONAN NEUTRON & THE SECRET FRIENDS: The Art of Murder: CD/LP

I start all reviews of Conan Neutron’s bands (Replicator, Mount Vicious, Victory & Associates, and now Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends) with the same caveat: I’ve known Conan since about 2001. That being said, it’s good to see his musical progression. That’s not to say his past projects were bad, but it seems that The Art of Murder is his strongest yet. The music has muscle, with tough guitars and solid drumming, courtesy of Dale Crover of the Melvins. There are hooks aplenty on most of the songs, the kind that will have you repeating the refrain in your head the rest of the day, even if you don’t know what the hell they mean. My one complaint is that on occasion those refrains could last too long at the end of the songs, which means that these eleven songs could’ve been shorter than the album’s thirty-eight minutes. Making the songs a bit shorter would’ve added to their punch instead of feeling that they were occasionally dragging. The most surprising aspect of The Art of Murder were the melodies, which isn’t something I recall Neutron playing around with so much in the past. It gives the tracks more depth and shows that the band can hit hard as well as pull back. That diversity within the sound (punk, indie rock, rock’n’roll, whatever you want to call it) that Conan Neutron fills, makes for a strong album. –Kurt Morris (Seismic Wave, neutronfriends.bandcamp.com)