Review Summary: SMD add a whole heap of guest vocals, subtract the hard-hitting nature of their debut, and create something that feels more balanced and enjoyable, as suitable a soundtrack for the club as it is for an (albeit energetic) stroll with your headphones.
If you’re Simian Mobile Disco, being a prolific remix and production team that works with a wide range of musicians has huge benefits when you come around to creating your own music. It means you can call in a wide range of awesome guest vocalists to spice up your tracks and give them recognisable vocal hooks that you can play around with. And that’s exactly what they’ve done on their second album, Temporary Pleasure
, the follow-up to 2007’s underground hit, Attack Decay Sustain Release
, aiming for a more mainstream audience with a collection of extremely catchy and danceable tracks that work as well in a set of headphones as on the dancefloor.
Accordingly, most of the tracks are all about the vocals. Opener ‘Cream Dream’ layers Gruff Rhys’s ultra-smooth falsetto over a simple beat and repetitive, puncturing synth chords whilst the homage to excess that is lead single ‘Audacity of Huge’ features Yeasayer’s Chris Keating delivering some of the most ludicrous/awesome lyrics this side of Anthony Kiedis (Double dutch dinosaur duplex in Dubai/ I’ll be there with my friend the Sultan of Brunei). ‘Cruel Intentions’ matches a reasonably restrained Beth Ditto with suitably dreamy house-tinged synths and accents, highlighting a definite trend of softened edges that permeates the album, with notable exception ‘Off the Map’ recalling their earlier work’s slightly edgier feel, well aided by Jamie Liddell’s dirty, charged vocals (You can be Space, I’ll be the Invader). Ford and Shaw’s ability to create relatively minimalist soundscapes that slowly build up and arrest the listener remain undiminished, although the fact that they seem less beat-oriented may disappoint those who appreciated the abrasive nature of their debut.
This doesn’t stop them from being almost unconsciously danceable though, and it’s hard to listen to more than a few seconds of any part of this album and not feel compelled to move something
. The album ends on a high note, with ‘Bad Blood’ borrowing not only the vocals of Alexis Taylor but also the quirky tweaks and rhythms of his band, Hot Chip, and closer ‘Pinball’ is also the album highlight, overlapping Telepathe’s delicate and soaring vocals over a range of synths, pulsing beats and deft percussive touches that mix perfectly. While creating songs that provide an instant, gleeful rush that should please clubgoers they also stand up to repeat listens anywhere, providing pleasures that are anything but temporary. Fingers crossed their supporting tour of this brings sees them return once again to the Boiler Room for BDO ’10.