Best known for his work in the experimental punk bands Replicator and Victory & Associates, Oakland-born vocalist/guitarist Conan Neutron assembled a pair of “secret friends,” the Melvins’ Dale Crover (drums) and Trophy Wives’ Tony Ash (bass) to put together The Enemy of Everyone. On this latest project, Neutron mostly mines the same territory as he did in his previous bands, but with a paradoxical mix of accessibility and abandon.
The Enemy of Everyone begins with “Casually Intense,” which describes the style of Neutron’s music. His vocal delivery is laid back (at least in this song), but the music is raw and hard. This song could have appeared on a Dismemberment Plan album, with its downtrodden melody and its flashy lack of flash. “The Bargain is Sealed, Child of Man” has hints of glam-metal; it feels demonstrative, still with an undercurrent of punk energy. On “Fight Math,” Neutron lets go with some siren-like wailing, but never loses control.
There are some clever lyrical turns of phrase, such as “If I didn’t look back in anger/I doubt I’d look back at all” on the incisively choppy “Hindspite is 20/20.” Throughout the album, the trio sounds like they’re having a ball, especially on the more rocking songs, like “All Your Nostalgia is Killing Me.”
The Enemy of Everyone ends with “R.I.P. Anger,” again making it clear that the purpose of this particular brand of rock and roll is not to feel bad for oneself or relish in one’s darkness, but to cast it aside with the magic of music. These nine songs are as fun to listen to as they were to play, but nothing will blow your mind. You may, however, be inspired to research Neutron’s back catalog to hear more of this type of thing, and you will likely find it more expertly composed and crafted than this latest release, though not necessarily this enjoyable as what he has recorded as Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends.