Paul Harris, Steve Smith and Ben Harris, together Dirty Vegas, have begun to emulate Moby‘s success with car ad soundtracks. Their first single Days Go By provides musical backing for a Mitsubishi advert in the States, and this debut album is doing rather well there as a result.
The name and the cover art are just the least of an über-cool set-up at the centre of which are chilled-out beats, breezy vocals and a so-laid-back-it’s-falling over vibe – the kind of thing you’d happily play just about anywhere to forget just about anything. Chill-out music by another name, infused by an Ibiza lifestyle and a flair for melody as well as beat.
With reference points like the Milk Bar and the Hacienda, there’s more than a passing nod to Alpinestars and two of Bernard Sumner’s projects, Electronic and New Order, especially where vocals are concerned. Yet it is an album of two halves.
I Should Know opens the album in euphoric trance style, with characteristic vocal duets soaring over a thumping house beat and all manner of wondrous guitar and synth bits. Lost Not Found, one of the album’s standout examples of what Dirty Vegas are about, continues in similar vain, affirming the group’s intention of creating trance-pop with melody as well as killer rhythm. It isn’t until we get to Throwing Shapes that vocals are dispensed with, with more of the same on 7AM. And there are lighter, breezier tracks too, like All Or Nothing and the excellent second single Ghosts, which are uplifting and easy on the head, the sort of thing you want to wind down to.
If there’s a criticism of the record, it is that while the vocal melodies and harmonies give an added dimension to what would otherwise be a trance-lite album, they do end up making each track sound like an extension of the last, as there is little variation in vocal style.
Minor quibbles aside though, this is a chill-out album to stack alongside those by Moby and Groove Armada for the next time you wish you were watching the sunrise while dancing on a Balearic beach at 5am. Just don’t put it on earlier than that.