Chateau Marmont

2008-2009-2010

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    8
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The bald, titular simplicity of the Chateau Marmont EP collection reflects the year of release for each of the three four song efforts shown here; there's truth in advertising, at the least. That said, what's immediately apparent about the French duo is how clearly they have their cusp-of-the-'80s-and-after synth/disco/rock zone down from the start; arguably some bands just need the one, but the winning touch is hearing how they began to take that approach in new directions later. Starting with "Nibiru"'s opening gambits -- vocodered singing, steady beardo-disco beats, chilly synth fanfares, and everything else that could be imagined with Omni magazine covers on the dancefloor -- it's pretty clear the group worships at an altar where Daft Punk and similarly minded souls have come before them. As with anything else, it's less a question of dated sounds than what one does with them, and when the duo lets itself go on the more poppy "One Hundred Realities" -- the actual verse/chorus switch is beautifully handled -- then it's really engaging as opposed to enjoyably slick. Meanwhile, one can't beat a more perfect summary of sound and approach as "Monodrama," which practically begs to soundtrack early-'80s model cars and/or international spies chasing each other around Berlin or Rome. Following these earliest tracks, things start to feel much more enjoyably giddy, evident in the way the cowbell breaks and trebly keyboard swirls on "Beagle" (the CD's one slight ringer, taken from the Kitsune Maison 7 compilation) offset the lurking moodiness just so, finding a better sweet spot between extremes. It might perhaps be a little less sweet on "Diane," but there's a sound of a band settling into songs in the commonly understood sense rather than good instrumentals and great textures. Meanwhile, on "Anything & Everywhere," the effect is quietly momentous when the vocoder is dropped in favor of straightforward singing. At the same time, it's not a complete reinvention: if the mood has shifted from thriller to nightclub sequence, there's still enough of a lingering atmosphere from the former. The final EP tracks collects remixes from figure like Gavin Russom, who turns "Monodrama" into a bit of DFA-tinged groove with some Oneohtrix Point Never, completely zoning out "One Hundred Realities" on the full neo-space rock tip with a shred of vocal swirling through from time to time.

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