Digitalism – I love you dude……..?

Ever since the rise of Kraftwerk and the subsequent dawning of the electronic age German music has become synonymous with dance music.  Digitalism are the latest electronic act to follow this long line of tradition.  Although what Kraftwerk would make of their second album title is probably best left unsaid.  Unlike Kraftwerk, ‘I love you Dude’ suggests that the Hamburg duo are quite happy to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

While the title of the album does them no favours it certainly doesn’t represent the album as a whole, but does unfortunately reflect, at times, a certain fudged approach.  This is mostly evident on the aptly named, ‘Forrest Gump, a synth driven dirge, co-written with Julian Casablancas for Indie kudos.  The experiment, although willing, doesn’t really pay off, with the verses sounding even more soporific than Casablancas at his most uninterested.  This is a dilemma that Digitalism face throughout the album, while trying to evolve and appeal to an indie-dance cross-over audience.

Much has changed since Digitalism first appeared with their explosive remix of The White Stripes, ‘Seven Nation Army’, and their subsequent debut, ‘Idealism’ in 2007.  Mainstream dance music has merged itself with the more mellow strands of pop, electronica and disco, leaving the thumping strains of rock behind.  With their latest album, Digitalism are trying to appeal to the Friendly Fires fraternity while still keeping one foot in the rave rock camp.  Understandably it gives the album a slightly schizophrenic sound and fails to capture the true essence of either.

There are moments of clarity, ‘2 heartsand ‘Circles make a pretty good stab at radio-friendly big-beat pop.  2 hearts’, with its building keyboards and hazy synths, echoes French new wavers, Phoenix, while the stronger, ‘Circles’, captures the euphoric rush of Delphic, all squelchy bass and pounding beats.  The second part of the album has the live show in mind.  The pogoing ‘Antibiotics’ and the Higher Sate of Consciousness acid stomp of ‘Miami Showdown’ will sound thrilling in a festival setting.  Similarly, ‘Reeperbahn’ with its menacing atmospherics and chainsaw riff, will sway a sweaty, happy crowd, but its aged sound, a facsimile of 90‘s Prodigy, feels tired.

The rest of the album throws up a few more unremarkable tracks, fine in a club setting, but  lacking any real nuance to form a coherently and consistently good album.  ‘Stratosphere’, ‘Blitz’ and ‘Encore’ could all be part of the same demo, pounding beats, grinding synths, you’ve got the picture by now?  It’s not that ‘I Love you dude’ is a particularly bad album its just lost its footing in the current climate of dance cross-over, lacking a strong identity it falls betwixt and between.  Without the visionary genius or pop sensibilities of Kraftwerk, Digitalism find themselves rehashing old ideas or relying on studio production to find their place.

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