With snow covering the ground in England at present reviewing Lindstrøm's latest album, a collaboration with vocalist Christabelle, feels a little incongruous. Yet at the same time it's a perfect fit, and that is because more than anything else Lindstrøm has done, even his laid back cosmic disco collaborations with Prins Thomas, Real Life Is No Cool feels like the warmth of the sun shining on your face.
Once past the slightly uncomfortable entrance of looping, reversed vocals Real Life Is No Cool quickly settles into a groove of tropical sounding beach vibes. It is quickly apparent that this is Lindstrøm's most straight-up house album yet. Opening track 'Looking For What' boasts a soulful piano refrain and waddling bassline that wouldn't sound out of place in a modern deep house track but it is the playfulness between the music and Christabelle's vocals that really lift things up, as on the break three minutes into this opening track.
There are traces of disco, Moroder and 80s experimentation throughout, as on the thick, heavy bassline of 'Lovesick', the sheer camp-celebration of 'Baby Can't Stop' or the acidic synthesizers of 'Let's Practice'. But more than anything this album is simply a relaxed lie down in the sun. At its best the result is utterly sublime - the repeated vocal refrain from the shimmering 'Keep It Up' feels like a dip in a pool whilst the impeccable stop-start timing of 'High & Low' ends things on a high note.
By basing the album around Christabelle's performance Lindstrøm has given Real Life Is No Cool a greater emotional depth that makes this album more than just excellent, it also makes it interesting and beautiful.
It may be cold outside but Real Life Is No Cool will undoubtedly chase away the chill.
Whilst the CD version doesn't see a full release for more than a month it is currently available at Rough Trade, where it comes packaged with two bonus CDs, one featuring remixes (including the ace Aeroplane mix of 'Baby Can't Stop') and another featuring an exclusive 43-minute cover of the Christmas classic 'Little Drummer Boy'. The latter proves a highlight provided you are prepared to ride its utterly bonkers journey to completion. Based around the song's trademark marching-band rhythm it gradually drills itself into you skull. In the closing minutes it begins to sound like a bizarre sci-fi epic space-war battle march, only one which culminates not in laser fire and trench-runs but in a battle where the weapons are snowballs and mince pies. It's totally ridiculous, and frankly essential Christmas listening as a result.