It might be obvious to suggest it, but with their second record Simian Mobile Disco give the impression of unashamedly pointing themselves at the big league – meaning the Chemical Brothers are in their sights.
The two duos are often mentioned in the same breath, and it’s a flattering comparison for both – electronic trickery, frenzied live shows and the ability to write a party anthem on tap are just a few of the things they have in common. Yet there’s a fine line between writing your own record and having a record that runs like an ‘indie’ singer guestlist, and with Temporary Pleasures, Simian Mobile Disco are walking the tightrope somewhat awkwardly.
Doubtless this is due to James Ford and Jas Shaw’s extended book of contacts, but it proves a mixed blessing, even if on occasions the vocal stardust is liberally sprinkled. Cruel Intentions presents The Gossip‘s larger than life figurehead Beth Ditto in an understated vocal, for a change focussing on a more soulful side rather than the lung busting tracks we know her for; she adapts well. Prior to this the album eases in with a softly euphoric vocal from Gruff Rhys, his Cream Dream sounding more like an out take from the Neon Neon project than a full on SMD track. It’s heavily ’80s influenced and subtly uplifting.
There are missed opportunities though, particularly Bad Blood, which mixes a far-off and emotionally detached vocal from Hot Chip‘s Alexis Taylor with a surprisingly staid beat.
If anything it’s the lesser lights and the instrumental tracks that remind of the Simians’ party credentials. The single Audacity Of Huge is a gift for Yeasayer vocalist Chris Keating, a catchy and cleverly worded piece of work. Synthesize is wordless, but takes a famously demented Todd Rundgren wig out and appends it to a cracking beat. Ambulance makes an impressive impact, while with Telepathe at the controls, Pinball makes a strong album closer with an edge of attitude.
The result of using these familiar names is that Simian Mobile Disco lose something of the edge that gave Attack Decay Sustain Release such a heavy clout as a sharp piece of electro. It may be that you want to apply the skip function a bit more liberally to this record, to make your temporary pleasures that bit more permanent.