I Love You, Dude

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While Digitalism may have stepped away from full-length releases for four years after Idealism, the duo kept releasing singles and other efforts as it went, perhaps a little less frenetically than before. But I Love You, Dude shows the wait was worth it -- rarely has an album so effortlessly balanced between seeming almost too familiar in sound and utterly, blessedly confident in that sound. The key feeling could be summed up in the album title, in a way -- it's not necessarily that the album is all about love, but it's definitely about warmth and happy energy with a definite male slant, a blissed feeling over the heavy crunch and impact of the music. "2 Hearts," the winsome big pop smoosh that was the lead single, may be calculatedly huge and sweet but that's the point, with a melt-in-your-mouth chorus as the knockout punch. "Circles" is another strong point, with vocals at one point slyly and clearly referencing Robert Smith's iconic "Again and again!" sequence from "A Forest" but set in music that's all bro'd-up synth elegance and energy. Straight-down-the-line dance numbers abound, of course, starting with the opening "Stratosphere" and further followed by songs like the pure surge in action of "Blitz," the big bad monster crunches of "Miami Showdown," and the electro handclap touches on "Antibiotics." In the middle of it all is "Forrest Gump," featuring the Strokes' Julian Casablancas perhaps finally finding a spot for his new wave smoothness over an electronic-centered arrangement. The end result is almost a peak-period Cars hit that never was, yet with Digitalism's signature surge and shimmer as the core.

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