The release of Fancy Footwork in 2007 brought the sound of Toronto’s electro-throwbacks Chromeo to the larger world. It was their second album but the singles from it heralded recognition from far more varied circles than their 2004 debut She’s In Control.
P-Thugg and Dave One’s latest release, Business Casual, is largely more of the same. The album opens with ‘Hot Mess’ which seems to pick up directly from where Fancy Footwork left off. The novelty love song theme is continued, a lady’s voice interrupts in a sultry manner and all remains familiar. ‘I’m Not Contagious’ employs the band’s trusty vocoder to great lengths. Lairy male grunts call to mind Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’ and set the tone for the rest of the album. ‘Night by Night’, the first single is a highlight but no departure from any previous synth-heavy tracks.
‘Don’t Turn the Lights On’ is the first track that shows promise and innovation. It opens with a sound reminiscent of the early Human League and builds up with heavy electronic layers. Taking inspiration from the electronica of yesteryear but has done something new with it, in the same field as Les Rhythmes Digitales, you can hear it slotting in perfectly as part of an upcoming Fabric Live mix.
‘When the Night Falls’ opens with a female voice and isn’t a million miles from sounding like Whitney Houston’s ‘How Will I Know’. It has a darker tone than most other songs on the album and benefits from this. It also makes nice use of the phrase “high falutin’” which is no mean feat. ‘Don’t Walk Away’ adds a disco feel with a lovely string backing.
The song on the album which has created a bit of a stir is ‘J’ai Claque la Porte’. It’s sung entirely in French and uses very sparse beats and darting synths along with guitar picking between electronic whomps. It’s a cross between a Jacques Brel-style chanson and Jean Michel Jarre. It’s the only song which signals a new sense of creativity from Chromeo and it’s a pity this didn’t extend to more of the content on Business Casual.
Business Casual is excellent dance music and it always feels as if you’re listening to a lost snippet from an ‘80s gem but it’d be nice to hear if they could really do anything else apart from churning out vocoder-laden synth pop.