When you think of Norwegian pop music, and perhaps even Scandinavian pop music, you think of the most successful exports and come up with an underlying theme of polished pop, or maybe classy, subtly melancholic electronica.
And then you hear Datarock. They are, one would imagine, extremely valuable to Norwegian music, as there’s something very different about them, an appealing irreverence that means they can blatantly sound check their musical references, and get away with it while the party is in full swing.
Red, their second album, uses this technique so obviously it could almost be a tribute album, documenting of all their influences in thirteen bite sized chunks whilst using only instruments and technology manufactured before 1983.
The spectre of David Byrne hovers very close to the surface, and nowhere more so than True Stories. This sums up Datarock perfectly, as they get through the whole track through namedropping Talking Heads song titles alone, with whirlwind beats to accompany. It works a treat, and makes a great party game, though talk about wearing your influences on your sleeve!
Elsewhere it’s largely a continuation of where the first album left off, a series of quick tunes that invite you to wave your limbs around like you just don’t care. Dance! is a brilliant example of that, a pumped up ode to losing inhibitions.
The press release gets it right with all the influences, which are handily a lot of seemingly credible names to drop at the moment, from the reformed Devo to Scott Walker, from Fela Kuti to Kraftwerk.
Yet Datarock retain enough originality to carry this whole thing off. The Blog may turn its head towards the future, with its love of internet jargon and carefully picked voiceovers, but the music of its creators remains firmly entrenched in the past as it hurtles through the latest party. The Pretender further enhances their Talking Heads debt, throwing in a few transgender and transcontinental links for good measure
There are signs of a more serious approach at times, and the music softens a bit towards the album’s core, but Datarock are largely in this for a big party, and want as many people as possible to join them for the ride. If it’s feel good, throwaway pop music you’re after, you’d be well advised to leave your inhibitions at the door and join them.