Release Date: May 12, 2014
Record label: Parlophone
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
The late German photographer Helmut Newton has been a formative influence on Chromeo’s David Macklovitch (stage name Dave 1) and Patrick Gemayel (P-Thugg) for most of the duo’s decade-plus career. After generating early buzz on the basis of “Needy Girl,” from 2004’s She’s in Control, Chromeo became established members of the blog-wave elite with 2007’s Fancy Footwork and then 2010’s Business Casual, the first of the producers’ albums to chart on Billboard. Both of those collections featured Newtonian cover art, the depiction of trim, seductive female legs a nod to the iconic artist’s tastefully erotic mid-’70s portfolio.
It's easy to confuse Chromeo's smirking self-awareness for irony or, worse, a macho sort of arrogance, especially when they kick off their fourth LP with a song featuring a chorus singing, "I get jealous, but I'm too cool to admit it/ Other fellas talk to my girl, I ain't with it. " But Dave Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel are more complex than the shiny surface of their music often suggests; they're poking fun at themselves (and male neuroses in general), but they're having so much fun doing it, it's often hard to discern the message from the funky medium. White Women is the best Chromeo record yet, a seamless combination of energy and melancholy, disco and soul, all mixed together into some of the most effective songs they've written.
The opening seconds of Chromeo’s ‘White Women’ could easily be mistaken for Katy Perry’s gigantic, brilliant ‘Teenage Dream’ single. That’s about the clearest indication required of where this funk duo are headed on their fourth album. They’ve cleaned up - without sacrificing their grubby, crude sense of humour, mind you - and they’re writing the cleanest, most shiny pop songs of their career.This is partly a response to Dave 1 and P-Thugg’s soft rock staples suddenly becoming the coolest thing on the planet in a post-‘Get Lucky’ landscape.
The tenth anniversary of Chromeo's debut album She's in Control happened a few months ago, and the fact that there were no essays or oral histories commemorating the occasion is a reminder that Dave 1 and P-Thugg have made it a decade without a widely beloved full-length—instead, they're known more for a few great singles and their winking revivalist aesthetic. But in 2014, this works in their favor: with no classic hanging over their heads and no true expectations, it's easy to be seduced by their quietly fantastic fourth album White Women. One reason why the two have endured (and still kicking on a major label, no less) is the strength of their songwriting.
They’re back. The self-appointed ‘Funk Lordz’ announced the release of White Women via a Valentines Day personal ad on Craigslist. And, as you might expect from its title (borrowed from a Helmut Newton book) – and the band’s track history to date – this album is all about women: complimenting them, loving them, living with with them and, crucially, seducing them.
White Women is Chromeo’s fourth full-length, and their third to have co-conspirators Dave 1 and P-Thugg upstaged on its cover by at least one pair of luscious lady legs. Only this time around those legs are attached to a legible human being, albeit obscured by a wedding veil. A sign of growing up? Not likely, considering the bride’s improbably high hemline, to say nothing of the motel parking lot behind them, the implied ménage à trois, or the punny provocation of the Helmut Newton-aping title.
It's been just over a decade since Dave Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel released their first album as Chromeo, She's In Control. That record set the tone for a career that's consisted mostly of unambitious variations on their kitschy, personality-driven electro-funk. After 2010's disappointingly one-note Business Casual, it was hard not to question whether their shtick, however fun and irreverent, had run its course.
When you hear a really fantastic remix, it's not always easy to parse who's primarily responsible for the triumph. Such was the case last year with Chromeo and Oliver's hard electro-pop makeover of Donna Summer's “Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger). ” Is it the strength of Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton's songwriting? Is it the sheen of Chromeo's steely post-production? Or is it the nerve of Donna's gospel-trained pipes tying it all together? To hear Chromeo's Dave 1 and P-Thugg tell it in recent interviews, it's the synthesis of all those elements, or the “dialogue between the present and the past,” as they told the Daily Star.
Named after a coffee table book from fashion photographer Helmut Newton, White Women is an equally titillating, prose-free, and '80s-embracing effort from Canadian electro-pop duo Chromeo, who are hitting their stride when it comes to hooks, although they arguably stumble when it comes to cute. Case in point is a light electro lark called "Sexy Socialite," an easy singalong candidate if "I could be your boyfriend and your counselor" and other cringe-worthy bits didn't drive the track off the cheeky cliff, but this minor speed bump is overshadowed by 11 other cuts that could have come from a Prince side project launched during the fruitful Purple Rain era. Finger-poppin' funk and Morris Day-styled come-ons like "What matters to me is what's inside/And a little backside too/Can I get a bird's eye view?" drive the cool swaying single "Over Your Shoulder" into highlight territory.
The provocatively titled White Women brings to mind issues of race and gender. Don’t approach this record thinking it’s the soundtrack to the next Seneca Falls Convention, though. The title — like Chromeo’s obsession with female legs — is a jovial placeholder for the mysterious and the everyday. Pulled from erotic fashion photographer Helmut Newton’s 1976 book of the same same, White Women presents the curious perspective of a jilted lover who can never quite trust the pretty girls in his life.
Chromeo's fourth album has everything from smooth Chic guitar joints to flourishes of Euro hi-NRG and modern dance pop so shiny it could have been produced by Dr. Luke. The Canadian duo's disco revival isn't quite as cheeky as similar efforts from, say, Duck Sauce (co-founded by Chromeo singer Dave 1's little brother A-Trak) – but songs like "Sexy Socialite" are clearly meant as clever fun all the same.
Chromeo's MO is writing songs about high-maintenance female friends, accompanied by sleazy 80s synths and self-effacing lyrics. And, at first look, David Macklovitch's and Patrick Gemayel's new album seems to continue down that funky-yet-forlorn furrow. But there are more sophisticated elements at play on White Women. The provocative title, the pair insist, comes from their love of fashion photographer Helmut Newton, whose first book shares the same handle, and that kind of reference suits a duo that happily play the fool, when in reality they are anything but.
Of all the electro rock bands that emerged in the early 00s, few would have guessed that Montreal funk-obsessed duo Chromeo would be playing the big festival stages a decade later. Memorable hooks aside, they've always been overtly goofy in that peculiarly Quebecois way. Still, Daft Punk have proven that the public is ready for disco revival tunes that embrace the kitschier aspects of the genre, so maybe it's not surprising that Chromeo are bigger now than ever.
There’s two schools of thought that exist when it comes to Canadian electrofunk duo Chromeo. Firstly, there’s the people who aren’t too bothered about probing the deeper intricacies of their jaunty musicality (or the slightly more troubling fact that, individually, they go by the stage names Dave 1 and P-Thugg) and are thus content to both consciously and semi-consciously revel in the toe-tapping rhythms and uplifting vocals that have been staple adornments of Chromeo’s output since their emergence in 2004. But countering that movement are the puritanical set, who sniff derisively at the chirpiness of the Chromeo vessel and would smash, to extend this oceanic metaphor, their lighthouse light in the hope it would sink without trace.
Despite being obsessed with seduction and sex, ‘White Women’ is about as erotic as a solo 4am trip to your local fish market. After four albums, the Canadian duo’s flimsy, supermarket own brand of funk is wearing thinner than Kate Moss after a month long juice cleanse. It’s so dripping with awkward, wink-wink irony that it’s utterly impossible to appreciate the Hall & Oates style synth pop that underpins the yacht rocking groove of ‘Old 45s’.
opinion byAUSTIN REED < @austinsaysrelax > I am incensed by the hyper-confident, always-positive, totally unrealistic universe Chromeo lives in. “I can be your boyfriend and your counselor,” Dave 1 waxes confident on “Sexy Socialite” one of the primary singles from their latest LP White Women. Yeah, right. In what world would that type of relationship actually work out? I’m not arguing that it’s impossible, but I am arguing that we are naturally predisposed to blurring the lines between advisory construction and emotional destruction.
Chromeo White Women (Atlantic) Over its decade run, Chromeo has openly flirted with the absurd. Line by line, the Canadian duo leaves you wondering whether you should laugh or simply revel in its carefully constructed electronic R&B. Either way, they never stand still, and the moment the pure pop bliss of "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" opens its fourth offering, Chromeo romps to the dance floor.