Steve Aoki originally released Neon Future I in the last few months of 2014. He made it clear that he had finished a pair of albums at the same time, and chose to release the club-focused first part by itself. It’s only now that the darker and more emotional Neon Future II is being released, allowing us to see how the project has evolved through its second half.
The album mostly sounds similar to Neon Future I, which seems strange considering the advertised differences. However, the album does tackle a few genres of dance music over the twelve included tracks. Youth Dem (Turn Up), in collaboration with Snoop Lion, presents itself as an awkward mixture of moombahton and trap music, switching styles halfway through the song, before ending with a proper reggae section. Holding Up The World incorporates piano-only sections that lead into drops, which isn’t entirely original but does separate it from the rest of the album. Home We Go (Take My Hand) is unashamedly similar to Avicii’s recent output, using a country-style opening before moving into a drop halfway through the song, switching to EDM before going back to the country style for the verses. Considering it was already a strange combination of genres, this song doesn’t do it much better.
After listening to the entire package, the album doesn’t benefit from these experiments. The songs all share sounds and structures between each other, both those listed and left unnamed, and blur together from the first moment. Additionally, the album shows Aoki’s habit of taking a good idea, using it in the first half of the song and repeating it twice. All of the songs on the album feel static, never progressing past a certain point, and are all too repetitive to enjoy. There are slight exceptions in Hysteria, which is saved by Matthew Koma’s EDM-ready vocals, and Lightning Strikes, which benefits in a similar way from NERVO’s performance. They still suffer from the same issues as every other song though, and ultimately don’t tempt you to listen again after the first time.
What Steve Aoki has created here feels more like a collection of individual songs to be used separately within DJ mixes rather than something that is meant to be consumed as an album. Had it not been for the paired yet differing concepts between Neon Future I and its later counterpart, the album might have found some slight benefit as well. Instead, there’s no progression found here, and it feels almost exactly the same as its previous counterpart. Neon Future II enters its slump phase early on and never recovers from it, making for a hard listening experience.