[CD Review] Shortwave Set, 'Replica Sun Machine' (Wall of Sound)

Danger Mouse first caught international acclaim in 2004 with The Grey Album, a then-controversial, now-legendary, blatantly illegal blend of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and The Beatles’ “white album.” He could have easily coasted on this success for a while, but instead applied his technical wizardry to a variety of diverse projects: Gnarls Barkley, DANGERDOOM, producing the Black Keys’ and Beck’s most recent albums, and a couple of projects with Damon Albarn (Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad & the Queen). Which raises a rather valid question: Why all this talk about an American producer best-known for his work in hip-hop and funk in a review of a British pop band?

Well, Replica Sun Machine, the sophomore release from the Shortwave Set, was produced by Danger Mouse in the latest expansion of his cultural capital. Released nearly a year ago in Europe, the record’s more accessible tracks—”Glitches ’n’ Bugs,” “Now ’til 69”—may resemble the generic “indie pop” produced by a generation of Shins/Belle & Sebastian disciples for the sole purpose of scoring Wes Anderson-lite, coming-of-age films starring Michael Cera. Yet with splashes of samples and sound effects throughout, like in the noisy instrumentals of “No Social,” the band add an exciting, forward-thinking attitude to a genre of music that is too often strictly traditional. Sure, part of the credit goes to the production, but it’s ultimately not as odd of a partnership as it may seem—the Shortwave Set have employed a full-time member dedicated to sampling and programming, David Farrell, since their first album.

Danger Mouse’s latest mash-up—electronica elements and traditional songwriting, described by Shortwave Set as “Victorian funk”—deepens the already strong male/female vocals of Andrew Pettitt and Ulrika Bjorsne and provides a worthwhile glimpse into the future of pop.

 
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