Album Reviews

My Robot Friend – Dial 0

(Soma) UK release date: 29 May 2006

My Robot Friend is the demented alter ego of one Howard Robot, a man/machine who specialises in the kind of electronic dabbling that causes mass outbreaks of dancing like a maniac.

Not only does Mr Robot inhabit the freaky shiny world of the robot, it would also appear that this particular android has located a loop hole in the space time continuum. Many of these tracks are retro in the way that space hoppers, spangles, and fondue parties could never be. In other words, he represents a part of recent history that doesn’t suck to remember. A lot of this has to do with his approach, which pays homage to old school electopop in earnest, instead of being heavily ironic or tongue in cheek.

It’s not all retro reverence though, My Robot Friend has created an album that takes the electronic schematics sketched out by the likes of Kraftwerk and the leftfield lyrical flamboyance of The B52’s and reconfigures them effortlessly. The songs he creates not only reference the past, but can sit happily alongside the likes of the politically charged disco of Le Tigre. Much of this is down to the Robot’s capability to switch moods continually and as such, the scope on this album is actually pretty phenomenal.

If it’s floor filling dance classics you want, then it’s here. Ice cold electroclash with a side order of creepy lyrics? That’s here in the form of the freakish Dead, which features the lines “diarrhoea gonorrea, we smoked in our beds, got crushed by the books we never read”.

Porno Funk float your boat? Then here’s Swallow; which doesn’t mess about with innuendo or suggestion like so many pop groups, it just flops it all out and lets you see what its got. A repetitive horny robotic voice spews out such nuggets as: “Nervous like a cat in heat, masturbate with hands and feet, oral, anal overdose, fuck him till you’re comatose…boygirlboygirlboygirl”. And somehow it isn’t cheap or tacky, just weirdly brilliant. Had Howard been the script writer on Metal Mickey, I suspect it would still be on TV. The Adult Channel probably.

Rapture attacks the effect of TV and dumbing down of today’s culture by mixing astute lyrics with a backing track that takes elements of Paul Hardcastle and Matmos and fuses them into a lateral thinking disco beast obsessed with plastic surgery and the number 19.

To wrap things up there’s the calypso inflected Electric Pants, and an untitled track which repeats the lines “He’s a bear” over and over and sounds for all the world like an old Zappa track.

Those of you still reminiscing thanks to my earlier inclusion of the words “space hopper” think back to Big Trak, the robot you always wanted for Christmas. That was a massive disappointment, wasn’t it? Get yourself My Robot friend, it’s a far more fun and rewarding experience.

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My Robot Friend – Dial 0