Rather disappointingly this has nothing whatsoever to do with 1980s animated TV series Transformers. It’s actually a strange mixture of electro, pop and punk influences which constitutes the second album of an act that has been quietly on the back-burner throughout Europe for a number of years. Apparently, they are rather popular in France.
Robots in Disguise consists of Sue Denim and Dee Plume who like to think of themselves as the female equivalents of the former stage personas of David Bowie and Iggy Pop. This is rather strange, as they sound more like Shampoo crossed with Gary Numan with a bit of Bjork thrown in for good measure. You may recognise them from appearances with the Mighty Boosh both live and on the TV series.
The album itself has been being released piecemeal across Europe for the last couple of years. That isn’t as much of a problem as it sounds as something this intrinsically retro isn’t going to date very fast, for the simple reason that it’s already dated. The tracks are pretty much of muchness and whilst the listener will inevitably prefer some to others there is a pretty limited market for this type of music.
The best song on the album is You Really Got Me, a cover of the classic Kinks number, which was always going to lend itself to this brand of screaming electro. Voodoo has a haunting base complete with 70s style disco orgasm vocals thrown in for good measure. Mirror Mirror is a fairly good social comment about how shallow everything is, which is a refreshingly self-mocking attitude for a pop band. La Nuit is a bizarre little creation, sung entirely in French, with some whiny vocals that is strangely catchy. The other tracks on the album are more of the same, although it is a shame that out of the eleven tracks on this album two are simply remixes. It would definitely have benefited from two new songs rather than rehashes of other tracks.
Listening to this is like literally stepping back in time to the 1980s, but without the associated memories that the original music of the era evokes. There’s nothing wrong with the songs, the production, the vocals or any other aspect, it’s just that it’s pretty much a case of been there, done that. Music has its fashion the same way as everything else, and the face of electro has moved on with bands like Temposhark, Lorraine and Headland giving us this seasons new take on the electro genre.
In fairness, there will be those out there who will love this album and become devoted disciples of the church of Robots in Disguise complete with Adam Ant style make-up, and you can guarantee that given a stage and some suitable scenery these girls are going give you a gig that you’ll remember for years. It’s just a shame that the inevitable d�j� vu feeling is more likely to have you dusting off your old vinyl rather than have this album on repeat on your stereo.