She’s in Control
Turbo Records/Vice Records/V2 Records/Universal Music Group
(In order for StraightFromTheCrates.com to become more than my personal exhaust I’m trying to assemble an editorial staff. Besides hearing other people’s opinions it also leads to stuff being reviewed I myself would never have gotten into. Such is the case with Canadian electrofunk group Chromeo whose debut She’s In Control gets close scrutiny by my homeboy exeFX. Leave some comments for him. All you need is a facebook account. And even if you don’t have that you can use a potentially anonymous guest account. Also if you want your rants about music on Straight from the Crates, just send an e-mail of your review to sirbonkers91[at]gmail[dot]com. I will let him get started, although I will be hovering in the background to crack lame jokes and give you some of my immediate observations concerning She’s In Control. My voice is the one in between brackets and in italics if that wasn’t obvious.)
Thank you for your intro, bennyfromdablock.
Yes! Chromeo! The best Jewish/Arab partnership since the dawn of humanity. The first song I heard from them was Tenderoni, from Fancy Footwork (2007). I heard only a few other songs by them, of which I can’t recall the titles. Anyway, they’re Canadian, from Montréal to be specific and they tend to fall back into the 80’s and they use fake oldskool synthesizers to produce electro-funk. Doesn’t sound appealing? Well, it can be, because Tenderoni was a few minutes of pure, uncut, cheesy fun. So, I decided I should review their first album, She’s in Control. It came out in 2004 and didn’t really hit the charts hard or anything. At least not around my way, few people have heard this album in it’s entirety so there’s plenty to discover!
This is my first review for StraightFromTheCrates.com.
1. Me & My Man
This track leaves great expectations of an ‘explosion’. However, it doesn’t give you the satisfaction you’re expecting in the beginning. It just goes downward from the very first second. But, as they say, there’s no need for peddling when you roll downward.
A climax is nowhere to be found. The vocals get drowned in vocoding, it’s just not very exciting. The beat is cool though, I think this song deserves a remix.
2. Needy Girl
Now this song’s intro is what I’m talking about, but Dave 1 stays in the same kind of vocals as Me & My Man, which leaves me in that same feeling from there. The break gives a really nice oldskool 80’s hip-hop feeling though, the arpeggios could’ve been better.
But then, a very nice bass riff which did it for me. Parts of this song rock out, some others don’t. Somewhere ’round the end of this song there’s a slight climax and kickass killer drums at the end I’ve been waiting for since the last track. Job well done, although this track deserved more time and attention.
3. You’re so Gangsta
Yes! This beat rocks, it rolls, it slides and it gets fucked up when the weird sample kicks in… Such a damn shame. Then a sax rolls in from nowhere, but I like it. A more organic sound in this electronic jungle of an instrumental, over some sampled (probably synthesized) beat. I just can’t handle that weird high sample (A failed attempt at Prince-esque artsiness). It seems P-Thugg had a thing for fucking up great beats by adding annoying elements.
4. Woman Friend
Am I playing Street Fighter II? It sure sounds that way. The intro was rad, but again, when Dave 1 starts his vocoderized singing I tend to skip to the next song, although bennyfromdablock won’t let me. A good thing, because the drop is awesome. It sounds like P-Thugg uses the same annoying sound from the last song, but in a good way this time. He exploits it too much though, now it seems like I’m listening to one of those cheap-ass Chinese phone ringtones.
5. Destination: Overdrive
The beat is really 80’s-a-like, with the wooshing sound effects and all. The Eye of the Tiger-ish guitar sample just seems out of place, and so does the singing, again. At this point I’m starting to wonder if Dave 1 knew his role in this cooperation. (All I have to say about this is that the title is very accurate indeed.)
A nice 4×4 for a change, I like it. The vocals too seem way better than preceding songs on this album. No wonder this was their flagship-track, which has been used in a McDonald’s ad. This song jumps out, it’s just simply better than what I’ve heard up until now. The vocals fit right in the beat, the drops are a job well done. This title deserves it’s exclamation mark. (Indeed the vocals are a lot better than what we’ve heard so far. Maybe Dave 1 locked P-Thugg out of the studio before commencing the recording session. I also like how the tracks manages to express some actual rage while still remaining smooth as hell.)
7. Since you were gone
I don’t know what it is that makes the chilly-willy sounds in the background, but they’re well placed. I like the beat and the melody. It seems someone certainly took over from the previous track (I know albums aren’t recorded in the order they’re released, that was a fucking joke!) (Luckily this is not a cover of the similarly titled song by Kelly Clarkson). Thank God this was an instrumental, I think P-Thugg would’ve fucked the potential vocals up. Badly.
8. Way Too Much
A real bass? Good! But now the non-vocodered voice seems too poppy to me… and out of place. It seems a little extra attention’s been given to the beat. The oneliners in between make me feel good too. We’ve got more cowbells! Shit. They went back to bad 80’s / 90’s with this. A muted guitar solo? No way, don’t do it, no, no, NO! Aw, too late. (I guess P-Thugg found his keys to the studio again. Dave 1 should’ve changed the fucking locks already.)
9. Mercury Tears
This starts out just too cheap. Again, bad vocodered vocals. Goddamnit, you were getting there, Chromeo! Almost… They were hasty finishing this fucker up. (Presumably one of them had to pee, badly.) I’d get if this song was popular with 12-years old semi-alternative girls. Not with me though. Wait! Somewhere near the end, a really smooth sine synth kicks in which makes this song a little more bearable. They must’ve gotten in a coma in the early 80’s to awake in 2004 and instead of, I don’t know, go outside to get something to eat, got it cracking with their outdated 80’s equipment they obviously don’t have. Oh, shit… the outro. Cheap ass motherfuckers. Get it done right.
10. Ah Oui Comme Ça
Where have I heard this beat before? This song does not jump out of the rest, it seems just like a hastily put together interlude of some sort. I’m glad this one is mostly instrumental though. The vocals they did in this track are fitting and not annoying. Pretty decent! Ah, more cowbells! Phonkay, the arpeggios used are good too. I like it, although I still think it sounds too much like the rest. They should’ve put this song earlier in the tracklist, and make something completely different-sounding to replace those crappy versions of this song we heard earlier. (Since Chromeo is from Canada they have every right to use the French language and aren’t pretentious because of it. They are too campy to be pretentious anyway, but it did lead me to realise one of their obvious influences. Daft Punk.)
11. She’z N Control
Oh my God, is that a fake Roland TR-808 cowbell I hear? Shame on you, Chromeo! A real 80’s reference band would own a real one. Yes, I got you. Annoying vocals, too. The lyrics would be in place if no vocodering was present, again. Oh, and I just hate the guitar riff. Bad Chromeo. (Go sit in the corner!) There is no excuse on closing your album this way.
Rage!, Ah Oui Comme Ça.
Okay, I reviewed this album on recommendation of bennyfromtheblock, but I don’t feel sorry for doing it. This album had just a few good tracks, especially Rage!. The first tracks I heard of Chromeo’s were from the latter productions of them, which sound way better. It is fun to hear where Chromeo came from, though. They just weren’t as good as they are now. It sounds like this album was put together in a single week, all of these songs have interesting elements within them but with exception of a few tracks they all suck overall. I just can’t imagine Tiga would have them release this album on his label this way. Anyway, I know they got better, using the positive feedback they got on the sole good tracks they’ve made in 2004. (I was sitting next to exeFX and he was pretty much dead on. I would like to add that next to the earlier mentioned Daft Punk Chromeo’s greatest influence seems to be 80’s electrofunk band Zapp. And while this one mostly fails miserably at updating Zapp’s sound I am very much planning on listening to their follow-up very soon.)
Just download the two tracks I mentioned in Best Tracks, or buy the album if you’re dandy enough to put a remix of some sort together (or if you’ve been sad panda ever since your favorite group Zapp broke up). Otherwise, it’s just not worth it. I can imagine you’d go for studio quality by buying the album on CD, but you’d be sorry if you did. Especially because you can get just the good songs of iTunes.
(It wasn’t necessary to write down any credits per song during the review as allmusic.com tells us that all songs were written and produced by Chromeo)