Though in Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake Jimmy Tamborello (using the moniker James Figurine here) set out to make a minimalist techno album, influenced greatly by German label Kompakt, what he ended up with (and what he freely admits) is much closer to the indie-electronica/techno-pop warblings of his other band, the Postal Service. It is perhaps, slightly more club-oriented than anything on Give Up, as there are quite a few pieces that use sparse vocals (or none at all, like in "White Ducks"), including "You Again," whose claim of featuring Jenny Lewis means nothing more than a few nicely layered syllables (though Kings of Convenience's Erlend Øye is much more satisfying on the poppy "All the Way to China"), but there are still many overt hints of standard song structure that prevent Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake from really taking off in any one direction. Tamborello can't seem to really make up his mind about which way he wants to go, so he just swings back and forth between the two, which, while it isn't bad because he's adept in both styles, is a little aggravating. There is consistency, of course: all the tracks contain that (perhaps essential) coldness that comes from synthesized elements, something that Tamborello accepts and even explores (and it doesn't hurt that the master of melancholic electronica, John Tejada, contributes greatly to the album). "55566688833" (which sounds remarkably like "Bizarre Love Triangle") is about the distance that technology can create (though why, on his camera phone, he can't use T9 to spell "love" instead of typing "11 numbers," is unclear), with Tamborello's flat, slightly off-key voice working as the perfect accompaniment to the combination of warmth and detachedness of the song as he sings about fighting "face-to-face like it was the '90s again." And even those pieces with fewer words still attempt to address this issue through their alternating beeps and drones, coming together and then apart and ending in a mess. Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake is a nice effort, and it's fun to see Tamborello branch out even further, but it's not quite focused enough to place among the best of his other work.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown