Our monthly round-up of electronica albums that must make it into your playlist
!!! ”“ THR!!!ER
[easyreview cat1title =Â THR!!!ER cat1rating = 4]
The quickest introduction to erstwhile dance-punk pioneers !!!’s latest album is by way of comparison ”“a tropical island-themed TV On The Radio. I say erstwhile because they’ve significantly dialed down the punk end of their aesthetic on their latest effort, and any dancing it induces is bound to be more a laid-back shuffle than anything else. “Except Death” and the album closer “Station (Meet Me At The)” are as close as they’ve come to the urgent, pitch-shifting sound that made Myth Takes (2007) popular. This is no cause for concern for those unfamiliar with this California collective, though, because there’s no ambiguity or learning curve to THR!!!ER. The memorable cover art (three synchronized divers reminiscent of exclamation marks) serves to reassure: it sets a loose summery vibe for the record and tempts you to plunge right in. !!! (pronounced ”˜chkchkchk’) have already snagged legendary status as theÂ least Google friendly actÂ sinceÂ The The, but their musical evolution into THR!!!ERÂ cements their reputation beyond a mere novel band name. Sometimes it’s the instrumental details that elevate this album, the surprising sax on “Get That Rhythm Right”, the funk bassline slapped into “Fine FineFine”. “Slyd” is an infectious attempt at modern club electronica that refuses to take itself seriously in the most endearing way. THR!!!ER is easy on the ears, but tackles lyrical themes ranging from existential crisis to suicide before freewheeling into a “now I miss California almost much as I miss you/ but why would I miss somewhere where the bars close at two?”. Astonishingly, it all comes together like a charm.Â
Coyote Clean Up ”“ 2 Hot 2 Wait
[easyreview cat1title =Â “2 Hot 2 Wait” cat1rating = 3.5]
Admittedly, the title 2 Hot 2 Wait itself is cause enough for this debut release to be mistaken as yet another teenager’s faltering raunchy mix on SoundCloud. Dismissing it on such superficial grounds, however, would be doing yourself great disservice. This latest offering may be producer Christian Jay Sienkiewicz’s first full-scale record under his deep house moniker Coyote Clean Up, but the artist has been an active component of the Detroit music scene as Ice Cold Chrissy for many years, and it shows. 2 Hot 2 Wait is anything but amateurish and, surprisingly, its name is far from misleading. Tracks christened “Double Dip Dub” and “The Least U Could Feel” make no bones about being the soundtrack to sheer sexual melt ”“ which is precisely why they work so well. This is club music at its most ethereal: expect to find provocative whispers bred into retro echoes of the early Nineties, with nostalgia reinvented in a bettered version of anything you’d care to remember from that era. “Zebra Go Seek” picks at decades-old techno scabs without edging into the trite. The title track, though, clatters along a female sample that can get dangerously repetitive.
The album’s closing argument, “Awesome Luv”, is by far its strongest. This is where 2 Hot 2 Wait finally becomes crisp enough for the listener to realize just how deftly Sienkiewicz manages to thread a steady tempo through the entire record. Richly layered, atmospheric and highly addictive, when the now-familiar voice breathes over and over that you ”˜don’t need a thing’, it’s obvious that you’re experiencing one of the most perfect moments house music has encountered all year.
The Knife ”“ Shaking The Habitual
[easyreview cat1title =Â “Shaking The Habitual” cat1rating = 3.5]
Â Historically, double albums have drawn extreme reactions. Over the course of nearly a hundred minutes, electronica’s favorite Scandinavian siblings traverse such varied emotions on their latest that any reaction become quite impossible to corner and untangle. The lyrical imagery is stark and smart throughout, but there’s not much else to be taken for granted from the experimental duo. “A Tooth For An Eye”, “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” and “Raging Lung” are catchy, frenetic rituals that double as Shaking The Habitual’s most accessible tracks. Evocatively ambient, “A Cherry On Top” lies somewhere between the sporadic walls of drone and noise heard on “Full Of Fire” and “Crake,” and everything comes to a head in gorgeous high definition on the stunner “Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized”.
The second half sees a crisp IDM (intelligent dance music) jump-cut (“Networking”) but loses track to monotony over the lifeless guest vocals on “Stay Out Here.” From here it all begins to flag, and it’s only Karin Dreijer Anderson’s distinctive voice (seemingly built for raw tribal percussion) carrying dead weight by the end of it, as evidenced on closer “Ready To Lose”.
Despite its failings, it’s nigh impossible not to recommend Shaking The Habitual. Discard genres though, as the creators have, for a truly immersive experience ”“ this is a record intelligent enough to deserve to be heard at least once.
Rudimental ”“ Home
[easyreview cat1title =Â Home cat1rating = 2.5]
There’s much to be said for the slow birth and messy dying of drum and bass as a genre over the past couple of decades, but tracks like Brit duo Rudimental’s hugely popular UK hit “Feel The Love” sometimes make you wish it were well buried already.
This isn’t to say that Rudimental shows no promise on their much-awaited debut album: just that it’s usually compromised in favor of crowd-pleasing climaxes and chart spot hopefuls. A slow build is almost always sacrificed for the quick returns and relative safety of catchy pop structures ”“ a frustrating trend endemic in the more recent proponents of drum and bass, struggling to thrust it back into the mainstream limelight. “Hell Could Freeze” and “Baby” are prime examples, starting different but trying too hard to fit in by the time they settle into verse. Still, there are some genuine efforts to experiment within the confines that come bundled with #1 singles: the lengthy “Hide” meanders surprisingly into XXYYXX territory midway and scrapes through none the worse for the wear.
The best tracks are the ones that disregard convention, drifting into a soul inflected jam (“Home”) and club malaise (“Spoons”) as though they really were just feeling out a sound on their first record rather than trying to slip in a formula. On the whole, Home is a splotchy release at best.