Arriving just over a year after their debut album Voyage, Generation finds De Lux taking a more ambitious -- and more personal -- approach, resulting in a soundtrack for millennials dreading their Saturn return. As on Voyage, Sean Guerin and Isaac Franco demonstrate their impeccable taste in music, building on their pastiche of LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads with elements of even more groove-driven acts like Can and ESG and a stream-of-consciousness songwriting style borrowed from punk performance artist Karen Finley. This combination of looping music and free-form words makes Generation a denser, more difficult listen than its predecessor, and Franco and Guerin alternate between clever and awkward as they explore twenty-something angst. "LA Threshold" sums up this tenuous balance between self-aware and self-indulgent as the duo peppers its lockgroove with musings that range from random ("Irish people hate me/Hippies don't love me") to wryly perceptive ("I'm getting older/It doesn't bother me/I've been doing it for a while"). While Generation captures the panic of realizing you're not the newest and youngest anymore, Guerin and Franco don't always convince their listeners to care about it. Too many of their songs are just too long, whether it's the half-baked, seven-minute satire of "Oh Man the Future" or the piano-driven "Conditions," which would be a welcome reprieve from the album's relentless beats if it were about half of its eight-minute running time. De Lux fare better when they take a more structured approach: "Living in an Open Place," "Center of L.U.B.," and "Someday Now" all showcase the duo's skills at crafting hectic, elastic tracks that convey a mood of stylish anxiety. Franco and Guerin's contrast of perky instrumentation and quarter-life crisis sentiments has potential, but it needs pruning. In ways they may not have intended, Generation is a warts-and-all portrait of growing up.
by Heather Phares