Dance music albums are a curious beast. Stretched out over an hour or sometimes more, the result is often a collection of songs that just don’t sit right, ironic considering the people in question should be experts at mixing tracks together.
The sophomore album from duo Simian Mobile Disco is much the same. The album doesn’t work as a pre-club listen, which is probably one of the only times someone would care to sit through the whole thing. Luckily for James Ford and Jas Shaw, there are a few belting tracks on the album that haul it out of the mediocre and into the quite good.
Lead single ‘Audacity of Huge’ is terrific, Yeasayer’s Chris Keating’s electronic vocals drilling through a retro Prodigy crossed with Klaxons sound. The sparse arrangement of ‘10,000 Horses Can’t Be Wrong’ is almost as good, with its daring breakdown ensuring it will be a hit in the clubs.
The album’s trend for using guest vocalists is both a help and a hindrance. When it works, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, the songs invariably sound like bad versions of the guest’s own song. ‘Bad Blood’, featuring Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip, and ‘Cream Dream’, starring Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys, are prime examples of this.
While the first half of the record just about manages to hold attention, the second half tails off badly, with nothing ear-catching on show until penultimate track ‘Ambulance’, a near six minute epic instrumental breakdown piece that would probably catch fire on the turntable in a nightclub.
The album closes with ‘Pinball’, with vocals supplied by fellow electronic duo Telepathe, a woozy, vague piece of music that holds more interesting beats and rhythms than much of the album, but that inevitably loses its way towards the end of the track.Ford is probably now best known for his work as producer of Arctic Monkeys‘ second album Favourite Worst Nightmare (and their new one Humbug) and Klaxons’ debut Myths of the Near Future. If he and Shaw going to make a name for themselves, they’ll have to do better than this.
This review was written for Muso's Guide.