Release Date: Jul 5, 2011
Record label: Downtown
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
While Digitalism may have stepped away from full-length releases for four years after Idealism, the duo kept releasing singles and other efforts as it went, perhaps a little less frenetically than before. But I Love You, Dude shows the wait was worth it -- rarely has an album so effortlessly balanced between seeming almost too familiar in sound and utterly, blessedly confident in that sound. The key feeling could be summed up in the album title, in a way -- it's not necessarily that the album is all about love, but it's definitely about warmth and happy energy with a definite male slant, a blissed feeling over the heavy crunch and impact of the music.
There’s a virtual consensus at the moment among mainstream music writers in the UK that there are no new ideas in pop, that – to quote a recent review of the new Simon Reynolds book (which I’ve not read yet, so I’ll refrain from commenting on the book itself) “we’ve lost the art of ‘making’ music and are now simply rearranging it”. In an effort not to appear jaded, the consensus doesn’t deny that there is still good music being created, only that it is in any way original. Let’s cut the consensus some slack and put to one side the many problems with 'original', save to note that archetypal Year Zero act the Sex Pistols were essentially a hybrid of The Stooges, The Who and Eddie Cochrane given a misanthropic lick of dayglo paint and a singer with a funny voice.
This has got to be the worst album title so far this year. The German duo changed it from the mooted [b]‘Tourism’[/b] to give more of an impression of the euphoric, pilled-up vibe. Yet cringingly vibed-up first words aside – where we’re also leaving the Eurovision cheese of [b]‘2 Hearts ….
If Digitalism set out only to be ranked alongside the behemoths of electro-house (particularly Daft Punk and Justice), then they already met their goal with their 2007 debut, Idealism. What quickly becomes clear on their latest album, though, is that the Hamburg duo is frantically fishing for a crossover smash, and Jens Moelle is hell-bent on watermarking said smash with his own dissonant voicebox. I Love You Dude boasts some sublime cuts that should fill any dance floor, and these tracks thump and throb to the nth degree, but the album loses serious momentum when it feebly panders to indie-disco trends.
Hamburg duo Digitalism first received recognition via their 2005 reworking of the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army, a remix that exemplified the pair's raison d'etre by merging dance and rock music. For their second album, Jens Moelle and Ismail Tüfekçi haven't deviated too far from the template, bolting gargantuan synth riffs on to Daft Punkesque filtered bass, while Moelle's blank vocals mean the album never has to worry itself with things such as emotion. For the most part it works a treat: Blitz and Reeperbahn seem ready-made festival favourites, all cascading synth figures and pile-driving beats, while the rush of the pogoing Antibiotics is a thing to behold.
A lot has changed since Digitalism debuted with Idealism in 2007. France's Justice and their blog-house followers took peak-hour rave rock to its breaking point and left it limping by the side of the road. Electronic dance music cycled back through more traditional and frequently more mellow strains of disco and house. And everyone more or less stopped talking about once hopelessly hot labels like Ed Banger and Kitsuné.
German electro rock duo Digitalism commit two unforgivable dance music sins on their second full-length album, the kind that make us question what we saw in them in the first place. The first (and biggest) is their failed attempts at pop-crossover. As often happens when producer/DJs go this route, they lack both the songwriting chops and a decent vocalist to pull it off.
After a string of remixes and 12-inch releases in the mid-noughties, it was the critically-acclaimed début album Idealism in 2007 that brought German electro duo Digitalism to the attention of a mass audience. The fresh, eclectic mix of house-infused electro beats, well developed ideas and strong, catchy riffs on tracks such as Zdarlight and Pogo helped to satisfy many that the hype surrounding Digitalism was justified. Together with acts like Justice and Simian Mobile Disco, it seemed a new wave of exciting electro acts were on the horizon.
Electro duo serves up welcomed familiarity, received without contempt. Reef Younis 2011. There’s an eternal optimism to Digitalism. The sound of two friends, Jens and Isi, having the time of their lives, it takes a stubbornly miserable disposition to begrudge such bouncing positivity..