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Chromeo Business Casual Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Despite starting promisingly, the duo’s latest finds their funky shtick wearing thin.

Adam Kennedy 2010

Until now, cross-denominational Canadian combo Chromeo – aka David ‘Dave 1’ Macklovitch and Patrick ‘P-Thugg’ Gemayel – have skated perilously fine lines with no little success, soundtracking haircare ads en route. Their classic funk-pop set to 1980s-indebted electro rarely strayed into all-out over-sexed Flight of the Conchords-level musical satire. Business Casual, however, hurtles past the point of semi-ironic arched eyebrows into a no-man’s-land of previously unrealised vacuity – unashamed, admittedly, but no less excusable.

It all starts promisingly, Hot Mess encapsulating everything Chromeo seemingly align themselves with inside three and a half sticky minutes: an icily aloof female protagonist gives the duo hell over a strutting beat and bulbous keyboard flourishes. Yet it’s mere moments before the warning signs start flashing.

I’m Not Contagious sneaks in a hideous Daft Punk-on-bad-mail-order-Viagra verse, pointing to a looming lack of inspiration around the next bend. And knowingly self-indulgent lines such as Night by Night’s "C’mon girl, don’t make a fuss / Let’s have a conversation that’s not just about us" only further trigger sneaking suspicions that Chromeo operate as an intentional parody.

The exact moment where fromage overload becomes too crippling to ignore arrives within When the Night Falls, starring Beyoncé’s younger sister Solange Knowles. Debasing themselves is one thing. Reducing a versatile female vocalist to an unspeakably naff chorus fit for a Miami bar scene in one of the 1980s’ seemingly endless stream of straight-to-video cop movies is plain negligent. If plans aren’t already afoot for an accompanying video, a wind machine, a white Lamborghini and several curly mullet wigs should suffice, followed by some time alone to think about what they’ve done.

Digital album bonus track I Could Be Wrong is sure to entice a few indie-rock-inclined listeners to Chromeo’s party, featuring as it does Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. Except it’s even more throwaway than standard Chromeo. And whereas the finest music of this ilk goes full pelt with either ideas or loins, sometimes concurrently, Business Casual is, as its title suggests, the ultimate middle ground. Come on in, gents, it seems as though your 15 minutes are almost up.

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