Monday, September 6th, 2010

Chromeo – Don’t Turn the Lights On

But these definitely are


Jonathan Bogart: This is 2010? Not 1985? Because these guys are the best Cars imitators yet; they’ve got the 80s synthpop strobe-and-throb with 70s classic-rock structure down pat. I mean, unless it’s 2010, in which case enough already.

David Raposa: So now that there are all sorts of examples — most notably, in my eyes, Dam-Funk, tho there are countless others — showing that you can resuscitate the sounds, shades and shoulder pads of the 80s without making like hyper-ironic new wave minstrels, can people please stop giving money and time to clown-college drop-outs like Chromeo?

John Seroff: Chromeo aspires here to John Hughes era, pop-lock nostalgia but the blueprint is so nakedly displayed and formulaic that it’s hard to enjoy the song without dissecting it. Buttery vocals help, but “Don’t Turn the Lights On” doesn’t distinguish itself enough as much more than Memorex.

Chuck Eddy: Didn’t their early stuff have more convincingly Zappish or at least Systemy freakazoid electro-funk r&b in it? Or was I just conned then by their schtick, and their very good mix CDs (Chromeo Presents Un Joli Mix Pour Toi from 2005 and DJ Kicks from last year)? Someday I’ll go back to the first two actual albums and check. Anyway, I do like the bumpy electobeats in this (opening recalls “Don’t You Want Me”), and it’s catchy enough, especially that vocoder thing they’re still doing. And they deserve a hit I suppose, but somehow I’m getting a low-calorie Hot Chip vibe from it regardless. Also, what’s with the blackface in the video?

Martin Skidmore: Some of this is very good indeed – the glossy electro-funk is skilled and slick, with excellent synths and keyboards, and a nicely bubbling bassline. There isn’t much of a song, and the singing is choked and far too weak, but the music is just about strong enough to make the whole thing work anyway.

Frank Kogan: A perfectly lovely melody and beautifully plaintive synth washes are subjected to Chromeo’s cheap, drab clumsiness. I’ve never understood this choice: do they expect the beauty to be extra exquisite when filtered through all this gray? If they’d rubbed this track with a bit of silver polish, and hired a halfway-adequate singer, it would rank as a latter-day neo-Italodisco classic. Very frustrating.

Michaelangelo Matos: Likeable enough, but it says something about them as songwriters and singers that the highlight of this thing is a keyboard solo.

Mallory O’Donnell: You might laugh at Chromeo, and, really, you probably should. But what we need is for bands to be more like these guys. Ambition? Highfalutin’ artistic aspirations? Content, of any thought-provoking kind? You can have them. I’d rather sit and watch Chromeo endlessly reiterate the same almond-themed high-school roller-disco R&B tune over and over again than have to endure any new bit of monstrous vainglory by the likes of, say, Muse. More people should be this content to mind their place.

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