It’s always difficult to work out the sincerity of any retro-pop. Are the musicians affectionately paying tribute to a bygone era or are they being driven by shallow fashionistas and Shoreditch Twats? It certainly appears that fashion is now looking back to the ’80s for inspiration, digging in the retro goldmine for something worth resurrecting.
So have we managed to find anything worth fondly remembering in the decade that everyone looks back on as being ‘generally quite wanky’? Well, with this album it appears Chromeo just might be onto something. What was acceptable in the Eighties now seems acceptable once more. Couple this with the fact that all things Canadian are in vogue in the music press and you’ll see why this has arrived on these shores with a blaze of pre-publicity.
The CD arrived with what had to have been the most hi-octane press release I’ve ever seen, reassuring me that this is not an exercise in irony. Chromeo want to be a twenty first century Hall and Oates, planning the set the house genre’s roof on fire and healing its fractured soul with their vocoders and electrofunk.
Close your eyes and give it a spin: Straight away you’re transported to a synth-laden Miami Vice/Grand Theft Auto world of eighties retrodom. You’re driving through a sunny Beverly Hills in an open topped car with Eddie Murphy (back when he was funny and wasn’t an animated donkey), you’ve got your shades on and your shirt sleeves rolled up and Tom Cruise is sat on the backseat idly leafing through a scientology pamphlet. There’s also a couple of guys tagging along who are called Daft Punk or something, but no-one is paying attention to them yet…
Fancy Footwork is a fitting tribute to the synth music scene of the ’80s via the lovers’ funk of Minneapolis and the dance music of today. There’s lashings of Prince and Rick James and it’s clear that the oddly named Pee Thug and Dave 1 are having shedloads of fun. The lyrics are generally engaging and display a fun feeling of self deprecation. Stand out is the funny Momma’s Boy in which a guy can’t help but compare every girl to his mother.
Because Chromeo is deliberately trying to evoke a certain style it’s inevitable that a lot of the tracks start to sound quite similar after a while, but this is still miles different from anything else on the shelves at the moment. It arguably contains more substance than the decade itself. It’s cheeky, fun and playful and guaranteed to break the ice at parties. But like the decade itself, it might not have that longevity needed to be truly great. It’s fun at the time, but ultimately just ‘acceptable’