Head Over Heels
A few years ago, Chromeo was in the right place at the right time for their brand of retro-infused pop. A couple years later these sounds are sounding a little old but the writing is mostly up to snuff. Though the album suffers from feeling too familiar now, it will likely age better.
With DRAM singing on an ecstatic high, “Must’ve Been” soars thanks to its disco guitars and powerful grooves. Though the disco revival has settled down since Chromeo’s last album they bring the right spirit and fun writing to make it about music rather than aesthetics. They dig even deeper into the rhythms on “Don’t Sleep (feat. French Montana & Stefflon Don)” and bring wondrously catchy riffs to the mix again. Simple as it is, there’s an absolutely intoxicating quality to the way they bring it all together.
Throughout their album Chromeo really seems to be coming from a place in pop distinctly placed a few years ago, leaving many songs feeling all too familiar in tone and overall feeling. This said even a Daft Punk meets Weeknd track like “One Track Mind” still feels fun, despite not bringing anything new to the table. “Count Me Out” goes for the funky dance energy with a lot of sharp riffs and a bouncy pop energy. It’s the goofy sort of swag dissection they bring in their lyrics however that really sets the song apart from their radio contemporaries.
Much like Janelle Monáe did on Dirty Computer, Chromeo take some of the cheesiest licks and sounds from Prince-era pop and make something fresh of them on “Bad Decision.” In their unabashed story, the aggressive grooves lead the song into explosive and satisfying choruses. Despite the tired energy of some of the more derivative moments on the album, “Right Back Home To You (Interlude)” rides its wave of nostalgia beautifully for a glossy break in the record. As Amber Mark sings along on “Just Friends” the duo bring strange energy to their disco sounds. Using a modern energy, the whole song comes together with more maturity than many of the bands they’re pulling from.
The subtle riffing also really elevates tracks like “Juice” that still has an addictive energy in its grooves regardless of how tried the sounds have become. Admittedly however, it’s hard to leave these songs on repeat. However a song like “Slumming It” focuses in on its dynamic groove for a hip-shaking energy and plays around with its production for something a little more timeless. With its to-the-point writing and big sax hooks, the song pulls from plenty of eras without feeling like a pastiche.
Though lyrically more introspective and personal than much of the record, “Bedroom Calling pt. 1” is all too sparse. As The-Dream comes in on “Bedroom Calling pt. 2” there’s a much more heightened sense of fun and reckless energy. Chromeo even reinterpret a half-dozen familiar riffs on the last couple song of this record to make something like “Room Service” a party-focused explosion to end the record.
Words by Owen Maxwell
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