posted on August 29, 2009 19:00
A review of the album 'LP' by Discovery
Review Snapshot: Vampire Weekend + Ra Ra Riot = Kanye West. The collaboration between a member of each of those bands comes up with a sort of indie R n'B sound. While the songwriting isn't up to the level of dedicated hitmakers in this genre, there's plenty to like here - including a swingbeat version of young Michael Jackson's 'I Want You Back'.
The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10
Side projects seem to be de rigueur for indie acts these days. So here's Discovery, the nixer of Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend and Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot. Those two bands would seem to go well together, sharing a love of melodic, thoughtful alt-guitar songs flavoured either with world sounds (VW) or chamber-pop cellos (RRR).
Discovery, though, resemble neither parent group. 'LP' is a record of electro-tinted dancefloor R n'B in the manner of Kanye West or Rihanna or the innumerable two-step and swingbeat US chart hits of the last decade - with the occasional nod towards early Prince. The group's name could also be a reference to Daft Punk and their album 'Discovery'. For this surprising and radical step, we should be grateful - after all, side projects should be spaces for doing something different to the day job.
The beats are jerky and robotic, the singing vocoder-ed and Auto-tuned. And despite the cliched lyrics (plenty of 'oh baby baby' and spotting a girl on the dancefloor and pleading for some of her sweet love) there isn't a sense here of this being some sort of ironic in-joke thought up down the pub. The 'oh baby baby', for instance, comes from 'Can You Discover', a reworking of Ra Ra Riot's 'Can You Tell'.
You can imagine the record company's delight in finding that 'LP' contains a timely Michael Jackson cover - a louche swingbeat version of the Jackson 5's 'I Want You Back'. Despite the slight whiff of gimmickry and novelty, it works well. Also impressive are 'I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend' (with Angel Deradoorian from Dirty Projectors) and the hidden track on our review copy.
Apart from that, though, there really aren't any memorable songs here to match their peers in US dancefloor R n'B, a genre with a remorseless focus on fast-acting chart catchiness. But 'LP' is charming in its way and shows a commendable open-mindedness on the part of its makers, so it's definitely work a listen or two. And if it inspires some fundamentalist indie kids to finally appreciate the sheer pop pleasure of, say, 'Yeah' by Usher, so much the better.