Chromeo's danceable 'White Women' sticks with what works

May 12, 2014|By Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins | RedEye Sound Board

*** (out of 4)

I weep for The Bravery. I don’t weep for Scissor Sisters. But I salute that, despite being a few years removed from its biggest hits, Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo remains a survivor of the mid-‘00s wave of buzz bands. Look at the band’s still-thriving schedule of fest appearances (including Lolla 2014) and the guests secured for the group’s new album, “White Women”: Solange. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. Chazwick Bundick of Toro Y Moi. These are not artists looking to associate with a group that’s washed up.

Your next question is likely, “What does Chromeo have to say about white women on ‘White Women’?” Nothing. The provocative title exists only to (somewhat randomly) pay homage to Helmut Newton’s 1976 erotic picture book of the same name. Don’t look it up at work. Seriously.

In fact, since 2004’s full-length debut “She’s in Control,” singer/guitarist David “Dave 1” Macklovitch and keyboardist/vocoder specialist Patrick “P Thugg” Gemayel mostly have stuck with the same theme. And while songs from the perspective of a super cool guy who juuuuust can’t catch the eye of the popular girl in town works most of the time, they can begin to wear on you after a while. It’s a minor complaint--a majority of your time listening to “White Women” will be spent moving your feet.

Standout single “Jealous” is a fun, undeniable jam whose rhythm may have you dancing all summer. And while casual Chromeo fans may only expect filthy synths and glossed-up dance anthems that remind you of every ‘80s hit you can remember, the band also provides valuable life lessons like, “Don't be a misogynist creep!” (“Over Your Shoulder”) and, “Materialism is a bad thing!” (“Sexy Socialite”).

And those guests: This is one of the only times I recall thinking that more features wouldn’t be a bad thing. Solange steals the show on “Lost on the Way Home,” sounding like the offspring of Donna Summer and a John Hughes movie theme. Bundick brings gravity and depth to “Come Alive.”

Koenig, however, gets his own song (“Ezra’s Interlude”) and warbles like he’s in the shower, unaware he,s being recorded. With other stars utilized perfectly on this record, Koenig’s appearance is the only misstep. Fortunately, “White Women” and its subtle winks at quirks in society and love are all about inspiring your own steps, and it will. A lot.

In concert: Aug. 3 at Lollapalooza

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page

RedEye Chicago Articles
|
|
|