Camille Davila

Not for the Disco

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The first album by European singer/songwriter Camille Davila is a blend of Stereo Total's willful quirkiness and the synth-led retro-pop stylings of Pizzicato Five. The two styles rarely mesh, but the stylistic lurches from the herky-jerky rhythms and stabbing, Wire-like guitar riffs of the opening "Internet" to the vintage synth pop arrangements and sweetly winsome vocals of "I Am" to the acoustic guitars and brushed drums of "Hexagon Friends" seem to be intentional. The unifying factors are Davila's commanding voice (a dark alto that veers from a Nico-like deadpan to a warm, emotional style that recalls, believe it or not, Karen Carpenter) and her opaque lyrics, which combine oddball imagery and a sense of melancholy that's more suggested than spelled out. The highlights are the delicate acoustic guitar ballad "Cookie Jar" and the absolutely terrific "Your Spice," a playful pop song that sounds like Petula Clark collaborating with Stereolab. That those two songs are connected with the inexplicable "Wo Bist Du," an answering machine message in German that's so distorted that few actual words can be made out, suggests that Davila has a needlessly obscurantist streak that could be toned down a little, but overall, Not for the Disco is a charming set of playfully experimental Europop tunes.

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