Release Date: Jun 15, 2018
Record label: WEA
Subscribe via iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: On their fifth record, Chromeo celebrate the opening of their new permanent studio space in Burbank the best way they know how: inviting old-school R&B legends and new-school hip-hop and soul stars for yet another deep dive into the retro disco funk that made them (and Chic) famous. The Good: After working with Solange, Toro Y Moi, and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig on 2014’s White Women, Dave-1 and P-Thugg cast an even wider collaboration net this time, often with invigorating effect: Song of the Summer contender “Must’ve Been” shines with contributions from Virginia rapper DRAM and former Morris Day and the Time guitarist Jesse Johnson, while “Just Friends” finds Dave-1 doing his best MC Skat Kat impersonation in an “Opposites Attract”-style duet about platonic endurance with rising soul power Amber Mark. The Bad: Depending on your perspective, Chromeo’s strengths can often double as weaknesses: the band’s polished-chrome production values sound great on a sound system but sometimes sterilize even their funkiest grooves, and their love of vintage sounds still skirts the edges of pastiche.
There is a veritable army of musical masterminds credited on the new Chromeo album, Head Over Heels: Pino Palladino, the bassist who anchors D'Angelo's albums; Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, the writer/producer behind Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" and Destiny's Child's "Say My Name;" Tawatha Agee, who has backing vocal credits on a slew of essential Luther Vandross LPs; and Raphael Saadiq, the Tony! Toni! Toné! star and neo-soul maven. Taken together, this A-list assortment have contributed to an abundance of astounding music. Funk duo give us a peak at their signature talkbox and all-chrome stage set-up It's odd, then, that Chromeo's sound doesn't change one bit on Head Over Heels – why bring out the big guns for more of the same? At this point, you know the drill: smooth, aggrieved-loverman vocals from lead singer Dave 1 served up on a plush bed of post-disco R&B – chicken-scratch guitar, in-your-face bass pops, synths that swell and stab.
Chromeo's 2014 album White Women was a rare achievement: a commercial breakthrough that enriched the electro-funk revivalist sound rather than watering it down for the masses. With their latest, Head Over Heels, the Canadian electro-funk duo is making a more brazen bid for the mainstream with a collection of frothy, nostalgic summer jams, though the album doesn't quite nail the fusion of retro aesthetics and contemporary pop hooks that turned Bruno Mars's similarly flavored 24K Magic into a pop juggernaut. Structurally and conceptually, Head Over Heels is clearly meant to be White Women Part 2.