Simian Mobile Disco
out September 1st
Simian Mobile Disco offer up their sophomore studio album with an array of of color, texture and sound. Temporary Pleasure is a veritable smorgasbord. Just as stylized and hook-heavy as you please, with cameos galore. Known for working with artists the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Klaxons and Peaches, James Ford bolsters his production skills to 'staggering' heights here.
At first you're all geared up for some sort of explosion. There's this infinitesimal build-up that keeps going until you're squirming in your seat, ready for the pay-off. Remember LCD Soundsystem's "Get Innocuous"? There's this incredible lead into such an luxuriant crescendo of disco dance rock that it literally explodes into first rate club boogie (that word's disagreeable silliness aside, it means what it means) that has you moving non-stop in appreciation of it's utter danceability. And Temporary Pleasures' opening track "Cream Team" deceptively primes you to anticipate the equal possibility for such an occurrence. So you're ready to be up out of your damn seat.
What it plays into is ... interesting. It's like a falsetto boys group harmonizing in a diner while somebody tries to drown them out with the soundtrack to Tron blasting out of a boombox. A sort of calm confusion before the storm. Not a tsunami of electronica, but rather a small hurricane that rolls through, leaves a bit of an impression, but ultimately fails in rearranging and elevating your take on SMD's brand of dance music.
But false starts aside, Temporary Pleasures turns out to be sort of a mix-bag of tricks with hidden prizes. James Ford and Jas Shaw (producers, mix-masters, brains of the operation) utilize their connections to splatter guest vocals all over the canvas, with the result being an array of colorful patterns and shapes that don't necessarily fit together as a whole, aesthetically. The Gossip's Beth Ditto herself is among the chosen lending her vocals to this project. Though their use of her chops is decidedly underwhelming. The vocal powerhouse is seemingly restricted to a sort of soft crooning of the kind of hokey lyrics found in early nineties techno ballads, issuing breathy proclamations of infatuation, pleas of "call me up, we'll hang out" and all.
When analyzed piece by piece, taken apart and put back together again Rubix Cube style, it kind of works. All the different colors form tiny blocks of light situated in its own comfort zone. The first color representing pure electronica in it's most simple form. There a two or three cuts in there ("1000 Horses Can't Be Wrong" and "Ambulance", for example) that are merely content with robot rocking you with abstract beats, blips, and clicks. Mind numbingly rave about with your mates on that note.
Another color takes you back with neo-electro cuts like the fun "Turn Up The Dial". Dipping a toe in the realm of a Chromeo-esque heralding of old-school hip-hop infused with dance beats. "Audacity Of Huge" sort of straddles that line as well. Yeasayer's Chris Keating waxing on about PM Dawn, Roomba robots, and Tammy Faye nonchalantly spits his audacious claims of 'huge' in the vein of the chest slapping, mac daddy ego-trip. "I got that Bob Fosse. I got that Joey Ramone. A bag of Bill Murray..." And then he asks why he can't have you. Get your head wrapped around it. All the better to appreciate the sort of lyrical genius behind that much unabashed machismo.
Other colors on the cube flex an otherworldly aesthetic. Other vocalists include Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor and Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals. Other sounds shift from a bit of rhythmic afro-pop, to a bit of wistful ambient-pop. All this talent assembled and played around with makes for an interesting game. You want to see how the to get the cubes to click into place and form that multi-colored palette of dance.
This will be about as lackluster as it gets for some. But for most, with the ability to appreciate an assembly of sounds for their own sake, as opposed to having to drown in some hidden meaning or purpose, it will be appreciated. Because at the end of the day, when you're sweating at a pool party on a water front and James and Jas are in front of you fiddling around and producing music that thumps its way into your bones, you won't give a toss about whether or not it all fits. Transition after transition, all you'll ask yourself is, "Am I dancing?" If you are, that's good enough for SMD.
50-54 — Above Average. It’s more good than bad.
To enter to win a copy of SMD' Temporary Pleasure on vinyl or CD format (a total of two winners), leave a comment with your thoughts on the tracks you’ve just sampled, Simian Mobile Disco, or (if you’ve listened to it) the album. Make sure you leave your name/email address in the provided fields! Entries will be accepted until September 4th