I review the sophomore release from The Shortwave Set in the Weekly this week, but seeing as how the album's been out for like, forever, overseas, and it's out today in the states, why wait to read it? Read it here, now! The future is now! But actually the past! Think about it.
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.
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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.