Following up on their début, one of 2007's most under-appreciated gems, Datarock's new album Red is a celebration of technology and culture.
From the opening track 'The Blog', complete with samples of Sir Tim Berners-Lee (creator of the World Wide Web) and Steve Jobs, one of Red's core themes is established straight away. This album is a polygamist's love letter, divided between this love of geek and the love of eighties culture, demonstrated through the music itself and much of the lyrical content.
Red is drenched in clever eighties references, whether they come in the form of the 'Heat Is On'-esque opening of 'Give It Up', the lyrics to 'True Stories', which are composed entirely of the titles to Talking Heads songs, or 'Molly', itself a ballad to the Breakfast Club's Molly Ringwald.
Last year's Saturdays = Youth from M83 dealt with similar inspiration and there is always a danger that an album that attempts to re-capture the spirit of another time can suffer from simply becoming tired regurgitation of the past or, even worse, an ironic laugh at its expense. As far as Red is concerned the juxtaposition of modern technology and eighties fanaticism has a point. The album is an attempt to comment on the tendancy of our culture to be viewed through rose tinted glasses: the eighties and the culture from that period is often now placed upon a pedestal by our current culture. When it comes to appreciation of cultural periods it is the modern age that gets most overlooked yet, as the birth of the Internet and changes in the way music is consumed show, it is just as exciting and culturally rich. Unfortunately it is just much harder to forget all the bad things of the current age than it is with the past.
It's a viewpoint BlackPlastic certainly empathizes with.
Musically Red tones down some of the excessiveness of Datarock's début and the result is a little mixed. There just aren't the same level ridiculous pop records and BlackPlastic can't help but miss the exhuberence and fun of songs like 'New Song', 'Princess' and 'Bulldozer' off of the previous album. There is still a lot to like about Red - the standout being 'Fear of Death', with its spoken verse and vocals reminiscent of Morrisey it's as good as anything on the last album.
It is a shame after the dayglo execessiveness of the last album. Red is enjoyable, it just feels like it gets too caugh up in trying to be clever when sometimes all the listener wants is a bit of stupidity.
Red is due for release in the UK on Nettwerk on 8 June. Pre-order at Amazon.co.uk on CD.