Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield

Neon Hurts My Eyes

Producer, vocalist and DJ Nathaniel Pearn has pulled off a wistful, quirky electronic montage of sound and rhythms. The clicks, pops and gurgling musical bit parts thrum, hum and hiss around smooth vocals and phased harmonies. Neon Hurts My Eyes, to the uninitiated, is not easy listening and it takes a few turns to follow the direction the music ultimately and persuasively takes you. It is most definitely worth it. Pearn is a clever and imaginative orchestrator of multiple layers of sound collage. He drops auditory information in the mix when least expected. There are pulsating rhythmic hooks that carry you along on a fizz of synthesized energy surges.

Natural Self has found a way of blending melody with a playful, quizzical use of samples and cuts. The soundscape songs tease the listener with echoes of something vaguely vinyl (crackle and hiss) and funkadelic (claps and finger clicks), along with other musical nods and winks. It's often the considered application of the occasional cliché that reminds us of what makes great pop music. This album will wake up any complacent pop slumberer through Pearns experiments and mixing devices. He is able to get serious at the right moments, showing that flesh and blood can emerge renewed and energised despite being immersed in the mechanical and the digital.

The metropolis is a place that can certainly hurt the eyes and it's not only down to the neon. This album is like a stroll through a digital environment. You feel the static through which Pearn finds a way of prodding the senses and jangling feelings. My favourite track is 'An Invisible Light', falling midway through the tour. The rhythmic shuffle and pulsing bass pull you along as if quick marching you to the next musical destination. Eventually you will arrive at 'Paper Skyline', a moment of sanctuary, almost transcendent after the intensity of earlier tracks. You're finally out in the open after all that heavy architecture, data crunching and digital transmission.

Natural Self is a novel and evolving project. This new album is surprising and unique. Pearn's understated vocal is used instrumentally and you never get the impression he is trying to be a 'frontman'. His voice is modest, making it all the more effective as a new layer in the mix. Whether you are a seasoned follower of Natural Self or a newcomer, this album will give you plenty of innovative sounds to navigate with some great tunes and vocals to match.