Maceo Plex's Life Index at times threatens greatness.
The start is a stark invitation - 'I'm A Metaphor' feels like a statement of intent. It's twisted spoken vocal taking the listener on a journey before any rhythms have even really begun. As the clunking industrialism of 'Gravy Train' rides in Life Index begins to feel like a modern update on the classic techno formula. It sounds like the future was supposed to sound.
Single 'Vibe Your Love' is a Minimal Techno Soul Ballad that really hits the mark. The spaced out, clinical swooshes in the background providing a wrapping of loneliness to the vocal. 'You & Me' feels like it actually dates back to eighties Detroit - synths stab through the rhythm and the melody is driven and focused. 'Love Your Style' is at once sensual yet tough and uncompromising. This is music for proper warehouses, not nightclubs.
Best of all is 'Arise', a track which manages to feel like the pressure valve on your brain giving in as everything leaks out. The distorted preacher's vocal, calling on the listener to "arise", lays atop a sinister bassline and the track gives you just enough to leave you wanting more. The whole thing smacks of class - less is more and Maceo Plex knows it.
The problem is that he doesn't know that less can also be less. For every track here that serves as a revelation there is another that suffers from being dull and turgid. It is difficult to pinpoint the problem - 'Silo' for example boasts the same stripped back approach as all of the above tracks, plus a touch of brass, but it just feels flaccid in comparison to the best tracks here.
Life Index is a good album, but at 79 minutes there just needs to be less of it. Listening to it in one go just emphasises the highlights and leaves parts of the album feeling cold.