David Macklovitch (Dave 1) and Patrick Gemayel (P-Thugg) are back with album number four as Chromeo and the deconstructed disco and playful yacht-rock tropes are still happening. This is chic – and sometimes very nearly with a capital ‘c’ – particularly on the Daft Punk-aping Over Your Shoulder; actually it’s a better version of what Daft Punk was trying to do on its Random Access Memories slam-dunk from last year which, depending on how you sit with that album, will tell you a lot about what you need to know about this album too – chiefly whether you need to keep reading or not, and whether you need to bother listening.
I’ve had an uneasy relationship with Chromeo – but then again, I’ve had (and still have) an uneasy relationship with Daft Punk. This album, White Women, has sorta reminded me that it’s actually a positive to have an uneasy relationship with a band. It’s the correct thing to do, actually.
When Chromeo knocks it out of the park it’s superb – and hiding inside those super slick productions and the ironic mugging is a set of picture-perfect songwriting instincts. So here we see the duo really coaxing the best from themselves, a real return to form. Sexy Socialite might have belonged on that Daft Punk album too, if it had been along in time, might also have dwarfed most of what was on that album – but anyway. Enough with the Daft Punk mentions.
White Women is an earnest attempt to recreate the sort of music from that (fabulous) Too Slow To Disco comp – but to recreate it for now not to merely reference it and hope that this music could have happened then, Chromeo might look back for inspiration but the finished product arrives via forward-thrust.
Where Random Access Memories (sorry!) seems to sit outside of time – trying, earnestly, to occupy a space all of its own/all on its own – White Women is very much the sound of now, just built from (random) memories (accessed) from the past.
They’ve also found the right vehicle for Solange – she nails Lost On The Way Home, it’s better than 90% of her own tracks. Less successful, maybe, is Ezra Koenig (of Vampire Weekend) with his cameo on Ezra’s Interlude. This is where Chromeo lapses back into the shtick just a little too heavily – they’re far better off just embracing it (as they do on Old 45s and Play The Fool). That’s when you hear those wonderful falsettos for the sake of it, no conscious aping, no desperate mugging, no looking over the shoulder to see who’s listening and watching – just foot off the gas, cruise-control on, that perfect 70s/80s neon/knowing vibe.
They’ve won me back. This is their best work all up.
I don’t have any guilty-pleasures when it comes to music – but I do like a lot of the stuff that skids dangerously close to guilty-pleasure territory. And then, as with this, I like it all the more when it does donuts, spins and whirls, window down, havin’ a laugh…