The DJ-Kicks albums have had some decent entries over the years, particularly lately, so it is somewhat of a surprise to see this new entry come from Digitalism, who are unable to check either the 'so hot right now' box or the the 'highly respected in their genre' box of the likes of Soulclap (upon release at least) and Apparat respectively.
Instead Digitalism seem to be on the verge of irrelevance. More than perhaps anyone else they came closest to mirroring Justice's stellar popularity back in the 2007 / 2008 Euro house distortion bubble (in both senses of the word distortion). And as they say, the harder they come... Justice's second album is one of the most derided sophomore efforts in recent memory and critically at least Digitalism's I Love You Dude faired even worse.
This DJ-Kicks offering at times suffers from the same noise-core fatigue but more often than not just misfires into slightly tired, boring territory. There are a slew of Digitalism tracks and remixes here and some of them are typically noisy - see 'A New Drug' and 'So Totally Good', for example. The trouble is that what made this sound appealing in the first place was its relative novelty and the way it combined it with allusions to pop music. 'Pogo' was a massive pop record wearing a punk leather jacket and cranked to 11. 'Digitalism In Cairo' could almost have been Daft Punk in their prime. None of that is here - nothing tempers the noise and as such nothing comes close to that initial buzz.
So Kölsch's 'Lorely' is hard and kitsch but devoid of any charm and Grauzone's 'Raum', remixed by Ata, sounds like the angular sounds of Zongamin about ten years too late. And what to say of Digitalism's remix of the Rapture's 'Sail Away', already a song that felt like Bono forcing a sherbet dip down your throat? Here you can witness it being turned into an overblown electro weepy ballad - it so badly wants to be a lighters in the air moment. Hell, it probably is if you are 17 and think Deadmau5 invented trance.
There are a few better moments. The squeaky bass and distorted shuffle of 83's 'Hey Today!' actually achieves what a lot of this album attempts and Alex Gopher's 'Brain Leech' has the feeling of walking away from a loved one at the end of a glorious day yet still feeling rejected... It achieves the pop-electro nexus that the Ed Banger and Kitsuné fraternity seem to have lost entirely.
Whilst this album may not be a total misfire it certainly isn't a convincing return to form and it represents a low point in the recent history of DJ-Kicks releases. But then again maybe this album isn't for fans of that series in the first place.