Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Class Actress album needs more work (2 songs)

The new single Weekend feels to me like a demo rather than a final version. It's at least a few bpm too slow in my view, some of the synth timbres need more development and to be mixed more dynamically, and the song's various bridges and transitions feel untidy and not at all inevitable. There's a great, catchy track struggling to get out here, but it needs work (one suspects that Robyn and her producers, who have that Berry Gordy quality control model down pat, would never have let this version pass).

Bienvenue seems to be one of the best (so far) non-single tracks on the album. But it could probably have done to be the album-opener: it's title means 'Welcome!' after all, and since it's pointless denying Bienvenue's 'Age of Consent' vibe, why not embrace that track's positioning? In my view too, Bienvenue needs a little AoC guitar (or I'm in Love with a German Film Star guitar or... something) in the mix somewhere.

In sum, both these songs have potential, but neither fulfils it as recorded which irritates whereas good pop (from Borderline to Hang With Me in the relevant tradition) exhilirates. Having heard most of the rest of Rapprocher, nothing seems up to the level of Keep You or to the title track of last year's Journal of Ardency e.p.. The album's overall feel is muted, languid, not trying hard enough (I've had the same problem with a lot of Ladytron), which is a bummer for indie dance-pop. Too bad.

P.S., I've lately been disappointed by Bjork's Biophilia (Vespertine refigured as a narrowly intellectual gesture - although I've come around a bit on Crystalline) and by M83's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (a double length Saturday = Youth with half the charm). What I've heard from Feist's Metals does nothing for me, and the much-hyped Dum Dum Girls seem to me to be wildly under-done (and I love '60s girl-groups). That's left Anna Calvi as my current album and discovery of the year. Calvi just rules. Even her (free/downloadable) classical mixtape is terrific. Beyond that, old Sonic Youth stuff (esp. Bad Moon Rising and Daydream Nation) and the last three National albums have rocked my world lately.

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