Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and Christabelle have been familiar with one another since 2001, when the latter casually recorded vocals over some of the former’s tracks. This led to full-fledged collaborations, and a handful of modern electro-disco singles issued across the following several years. First, there was the dreamy, slightly narcotized “Music (In My Mind),” released in 2003. In 2007, there was the flirty and Moroder-propulsive “Let’s Practise,” as well as a cover of Vangelis' “Let It Happen,” which converted the original’s phantasmic space-folk into something far more inviting, sheathed in bright, Modernist-like cyclic prickles. Then, toward the end of 2009, the duo released “Baby Can’t Stop,” a gorgeous, breezy fusion of candy-coated synth-funk rhythms, sophisti-pop horns, fidgety guitar wriggles cribbed from Off the Wall, and Christabelle’s most confident, extroverted vocal to that point. (She's more likely to resemble the half-awake kid sister of Kim Carnes.) All of these songs (most of them in slightly edited form) are featured on Real Life Is No Cool, an album full of productions that are succinct -- by Lindstrøm’s normally widescreen standard, at least -- yet stuffed with sumptuous sonic twists, many of which masterfully recombine familiar elements of dance-pop from the late ‘70s through the early ‘90s. Just about all of the new tracks would make fine A-sides, though they all fall into place as part of a flowing album, from a charmingly tentative, momentum-gathering opener (“Looking for What”), to a chiming kind of ambient holding pattern that acts as a bridge between “Let It Happen” and “Music in My Mind” (“Keep It Up”), to a sighing romantic closer seemingly made for the Nordic equivalent of a blue-light basement party (“High and Low”). “So Much Fun” is the absolute best of the new tracks, a rapid rush of ecstatic piano house.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman