EP Review: Flex - Pool

When I reviewed their debut release Pool they were singing about videogames and I was pointing out their similarity to Alphabetical-era Pheonix. The subject matter may have moved on but the musical approach remains very familiar on this follow up release.

Flex - Pool

'Flex' is full of the tight guitar work and polished melodies that back a functional and bookish vocal. The slightly loose percussion and guitar riffs flecked with funk give this an infectious disco edge but it lacks just a little sophistication and emotion.

The dance floor sass of 'Flex' is countered by the more wistful 'Botox', with its chirpy verses and layered chorus. It feels a little deeper than the title track but in comparison to Pheonix's work, which often features obtuse lyrics that somehow still carry an emotional weight, this feels a little impenetrable. As a result the music is enjoyable but feels a little disposable.

Two remixes feature on this release in support of the originals. Stimming makes a return from the band's debut EP and offers 'Botox' up in the form of a deeper dub, full of dark grooves.

Aeroplane's remix of 'Flex' is the highlight of the EP and the best mix from (Aeroplane alter-ego, now it's a solo act) Vito de Luca I've heard in some time. It's a full 50 BPM slower than the original and adds some deep cosmic disco finesse to the original. The revision suits the vocals, creating a passionate track that more fully communicates the rhythm and desire it sounds like Pool were going for.

Flex is released on 18 February through 2DIY4.

Album Review: Real Life Is No Cool - Lindstrøm & Christabelle

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.

BP x

Real Life Is No Cool is available now from on MP3 and released on January 25 on CD and LP [affiliate links].

Album Review: FabricLive 48 - various mixed by Filthy Dukes

FabricLive 48 is something of a return to form for the series. Of sorts at least.

Following a recent mixture of slightly too fashionable, genre-of-the-moment artists and non-descript mixes FabricLive 48, under the control of the Filthy Dukes, gets back to the bread and butter of what the FabricLive discs can be when they are at their best.

It's eclectic, wonky disco, house and acid drenched tech-house. And it is pretty much all right up BlackPlastc's street. Aeroplane's mix of Sébastien Tellier's 'Kilometer' is still gloriously paced, thick like treacle. 80skidz 'Miss Marz' still sounds timeless, energetic with a hint of melancholy and The Proxy remix of Tiga's 'What Your Need' descends into suitable chaos as the Soulwax mix of Daft Punk's 'Robot Rock' kicks in.

But here is the problem: you probably know all of these tracks. And you probably know most of the other tracks on the album too. There are some great, inventive moments - Mr Oizo's 'Pourriture 7' mixing into Jack Peñate's 'Tonight's Today' is one such stroke of genius. And some tracks are good enough to survive the exposure - we certainly don't resent hearing Lifelike's 'Sequencer' more than is strictly necessary. But, seriously... BlackPlastic does not need to hear Mujava's 'Township Funk' again. Probably ever.

FabricLive 48 is like a mix album made by a friend featuring a stack of you favourite records from the past year or so. It would be a great mix to hear out but without much inventiveness in the tracklist this is unlikely to keep you coming back.

BP x

Single Review: Paris - Friendly Fires (again)

Let's keep this brief as we have all but bestowed single of the year status on this track already anyway but it is worth noting the re-release, which comes packed in with a couples of remixes.

The Aeroplane Remix lifts the foot of the gas slightly to create a more electronic but slower paced track. Befittingly it sounds French (Aeroplane are actually from the home of Soulwax and the Glimmers, Ghent in Belgium) but importantly it gives those lovely Au Revoir Simone vocals a bit more space. The result is a bit melancholic and beautiful, a soundtrack for the journey home from Paris rather than the trip out.

The Justus Köhncke Remix is similar in many ways but twists things in a slightly different direction. It still feels retrospective but has a touch more positivity. It lacks those Au Revoir vox though but what it does have my friends, is space. Bags of it. Over it's ten minutes it is one of those pieces of music that is more about the parts that aren't played than those that aren't. The drum kick is nice and fresh and it combines well with some warm melodic instrumentation to make a sophisticated big room sound that is much more understated than you would expect from a remix of a track as exciting as Paris.

Both are awesome and compliment each other well. Grab on iTunes, eMusic, Boomkat or in Woolworths (joke, they've probably closed down since I wrote this).

BP x