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.
Part of the much-celebrated electro class of 2006/07, their debut album Idealism enabled the duo to graduate with honours. Then, it wasn’t so difficult; everyone was swept up in the belated wave of crossover electro that Erol Alkan and Soulwax had spent most of their DJ lives creating. But where some of their contemporaries were happy to revel in abrasive frat-party grinds (MSTRKRFT), ostentatious Spinal Tap dramatics (Justice), or mad-scientist personas (Simian Mobile Disco), Digitalism were always most adept, and at their most comfortable, when creating soundtracks for careering, carefree summer months.
A wealth of considered remixes and the big floor boom and cascading breakdowns of Zdarlight and Jupiter Room, from said debut, might have marked Digitalism’s arrival, but it’s the hook-laden repetition of that album’s highlight Pogo that’s remembered most fondly. It’s the group’s calling card – the driving rhythm and looped repetition; the monotone vocals – and on I Love You, Dude, the same sentiment and sun-drenched purpose is recognisable.
But with formulaic flashbacks to Idealism – lead single Blitz is straight from the Pogo blueprint, and Reeperbahn serves up a weighty snapshot of Jupiter Room – Digitalism are also guilty of reverting to synth-driven type. Predominantly this stance remains a positive, with the trio of Blitz, 2 Hearts and Encore summer anthems in waiting. But take the Higher State of Consciousness free-fall of Miami Showdown, or Antibiotics’ low-frequency barracking, and the bubblegum singles stick all the better.
But it’s the contrast between these points – the brilliantly familiar and the boldly flawed – that ensures I Love You, Dude stays on the right side of lazy revivalism. Despite the echoes of their past on this second long-play set, Digitalism’s perfectly timed return is more about fondness than contempt.