Neon Future IV: Album Review

Neon Future IV: Album Review

Hannah Mirsky, Music Beat Reporter

Rating: 8 / 10

Steve Aoki released his sixth studio album and fourth album to the Neon Future series. The album has 27 tracks, which sounds like the most Steve Aoki thing ever. How he is able to balance his life of non-stop touring and actually producing his own music is beyond me but he managed to drop a mega album and collaborated with a ton of artists.

The Neon Future series is Aoki’s vision in which humans and technology will merge in the near future. It’s an interesting concept that he continues throughout the four albums, where he gets scientists like Bill Nye and Yuval Harari to talk on certain tracks to help describe his vision. Most EDM, or electronic dance music, albums I listen to all seem to just be independent tracks all on one album, rather than an album like this that flows more like a timeline. The fact that Aoki had a vision since the Neon Future album for his audience and worked towards progressing it is what kept me listening.

A part of why I think EDM music is so amazing is because it has the flexibility within its own genre to be whatever genre it wants to be. The music usually isn’t aimed for radio play and they do not brand themselves to be a singular artist. For once the music isn’t supporting the vocals and the music itself is the main focus, the featured artists forming around the music. That is not the case for most music genres. The lyrics aren’t meant to make you think, they just go right over your head because the songs are fun to listen to. Aoki collaborated with a ton of artists that fell off the face of the Earth like Icona Pop and Desiigner, and it may or may not have worked out in his favor. Personally, I’d never go out of my way to listen to their music, but since he included them in the album I had to give them a shot again. Icona Pop’s song “I Love My Friends” was very really catchy but I do not think it was good enough for me to listen to them again.

I think the best song on the album was “Halfway Dead”, which was released as a single before the album dropped, which he did with Travis Barker on drums, and Global Dan, a relatively small rapper. It gave me 2000s punk vibes, definitely coming from the influence of Travis Barker. The whole time I was listening to it I felt like I was listening to a Blink 182 cover band. Aoki’s career was actually heavily influenced by punk and hip hop when he first started out his career so I appreciated seeing him bring back some of his old roots.

Aoki also knows how to market his music to a global audience and always makes sure to collaborate with a ton of international artists. His song “Maldad” with Columbian artist, Maluma, could definitely be a song you hear on the radio. A ton of DJs have been working with Latin artists and the songs always turn out great. Electronic and Latin music really vibe well together. The Indonesian artist AGNEZ MO was on the song “GIRL”which featured Desiigner and I did not care for the lyrics, I thought they were poorly written and it just isn’t the type of music I listen to. Aoki also collaborated with the Kpop band Monsta X on the track “Play It Cool” and I think it was one of the better songs on the album. It is very unlike their usual music and has that catchy chorus that is repeated probably one too many times but I liked that they had Aoki produce their song and it ended up on the album.

Aoki also managed to get Sting on a song and when I read his name I was shocked. The song “2 In A Million” was just alright, but I applaud Sting and Aoki for the collaboration because that is a huge boundary in the music industry that has not been crossed. I have never seen a new wave/ classic rock artist collaborate with an EDM artist so it was interesting to see how their styles could coincide. It was a sweet song, talking about how two people found each other despite the amount of people living in Los Angeles, but the song itself just fell short. It never really picked up and based on the other songs in the album, it was just boring. 

I think with an album as large as this, obviously most of the songs were not going to be amazing but with the amount of content I definitely think Steve Aoki put out a pretty decent album. After listening to the entire album in one sitting, I had a hard time figuring out if I listened to one long song because they all sounded too similar. The tracks “Halfway Dead”, “Last One To Know”, “Love You More”, “Play It Cool”, and “I Wanna Rave” were definitely the stand out tracks and I could see myself actually listening to them a few months from now. 

This is definitely not the last installment of the Neon Future series. In the last track “Eevos Atik foes ireht”, it seems like he is trying to tell us that the future is coming faster than we think and that we need to start thinking about it now. It will be interesting to see where Aoki takes Neon Future next because he has been working on this storyline since 2014 and it does not seem like it is over yet. I think the storyline might even finally progress into where technology and humans finally meet.