I Love You, Dude
Label: V2/Downtown/Cooperative Music
Electro garage rock is certainly not a novel concept, but that doesn’t dissuade these German hipsters (Gipsters?) from pumping as many zealously distorted synthesizers into I Love You, Dude as they can. You might think Hamburg-ers Jens Moelle and Ismail Tuefekci wear their influences on the sleeves of their buzzing, pulsing contribution to this ever-evolving hybrid. Truth is, as they’ve readily proclaimed in the past, moving pictures are their inspiration of choice. A similar effect with their debut, Idealism, you almost feel as if you can reach out and grab the palpable, punctuating rhythms and samples blooming throughout I Love You, Dude.
But no matter how many times you hear the opener, “Stratosphere,” gurus like Daft Punk come to mind in within seconds. The heavy, relentless dance beats bump and grind against sparkly samples and the pulsating, chainsaw-like bottom-end. As the album continues, it becomes easy – nay, necessary – to assign Digitalism as a second-rate version of its predecessors and peers. A lot of this material we’ve heard before, and elsewhere, more effectively. Play “Miami Showdown” side-by-side with the Chemical Brothers’ superior “Escape 700” for a crash course on unintentional plagiarism. “Just Gazin’,” with its breathy vocals and processed guitar simulations, suspiciously emulates Air’s more traditional fare. And I hate to let the comparisons to come to this, but “Encore” is basically a vocal-less version of Enrique Iglesias’ “I Like It.”
Certainly these coincidences are inadvertent, and what Digitalism lacks in originality they try to compensate with sugary, competent dance-pop. Well, somewhat competent. The unabashed power pop ballad “2 Hearts” may be completely out of the same realm as straightforward club rompers like “Blitz” and “Stratosphere,” but adds a nice dynamic with Moelle’s boyish vocals steering the song. Unfortunately, the attempt to recreate this magic, even with the production hands of collaborator Julian Casablancas, can’t save the clumsy homage “Forrest Gump.” Trust me on this, you will loathe the word “run” by the end of it. Likewise, the too-enthusiastic-for-its-own-good “Circles” also attempts to capitalize on Moelle’s voice with tragic effects (here, “again” becomes the victim vocable).
Do you like your dance music mild, sweet or hot? To dilute the album’s focus even more, rave anthems “Reeper Bahn” and “Antibiotics” clog the album’s midsection with a brazen cacophony of screeching samples and rote basslines, a cue they should cling to crafting melodies and not aural shock value. I Love You, Dude casually dabbles in subgenres, creating a mockery of itself when the songs don’t jive up to par, living up to its potential when Digitalism’s charisma shines through the muck. In its 38 minutes, about 12 are worth excessive repetition, another 10 won’t offend, and the rest will fade away as dance party fodder.
by Jory Spadea