Fischerspooner

Entertainment

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Fischerspooner's woozy, percolating keyboard riffs and stylized camp theatrics were considerably more striking in 2001, when the group first emerged, than they are at the tail-end of a decade that's long since done the '80s-resuscitating synth-wave thing to death. Fischerspooner have been largely disregarded since the beleaguered electro-clash beachhead of their debut, despite (or perhaps because of) an entirely respectable sophomore effort, Odyssey, in 2005. But their pop-friendly brand of nu-electro has exerted such an influence on the sounds of the 2000s that this self-released third album, another four years down the line, winds up sounding unremarkably pedestrian (instead of, say, garishly dated, which is how it might have sounded ten years ago.) Which is not to say it's without its charms. Fischerspooner have always been more song-oriented than many of their contemporaries, closer in spirit to a pop/rock band than an electronic dance production outfit (it was the layered vocal hooks, as much as their trademark oscillating bassline, that made "Emerge" such a compelling signature), but they've also always reveled in superficiality, and both of those tendencies are very much apparent here. In musical terms, that means that most of Entertainment is built around the vocals, which is perfectly fine as long as you don't pay too much attention to the actual words. It works out great on upbeat, blithely meaningless cuts like the strutting glam-funk opener "The Best Revenge," which features Bowie sideman Robert Aaron on sax and trumpet, the intriguing, recession-ready electro-clash throwback "Money Can't Dance," and especially the peppy "Supply and Demand," which could pass for vintage Vince Clarke. The vague pseudo-politicking of "Infidels of the World Unite" and the vapid robotomorphism of "We Are Electric" are somewhat more tiresome, while the darker "Amuse Bouche" and "Door Train Home" come off as dreary, dirgelike trudges. The album's nadir, however, is the asinine "Danse en France," proof that inane lyrics are definitely not made better in translation, even if the Frenchmen over at Kitsuné records thought this was worth releasing as a single. A mixed bag, then, but with enough classicist synth pop pleasures to satisfy the committed and the curious. It's far from revolutionary and it's certainly not deep, but as often as not, Entertainment at least manages to live up to its title.

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