Transcargo

Idle Luxury

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London-based indie electronic collective Transcargo seem an odd fit for the quirky archival label Trunk Records at first, but they have a similar music-as-consumer-product aesthetic as label head Jonny Trunk. For their day job, the key members of Transcargo -- singer and keyboardist Emily Phillips, multi-instrumentalist Anthony Whiting, and drummer Guillaume Jambel -- own London's Hit Factory studio, formerly the home base of 1980s superproducers Stock, Aitken & Waterman (Bananarama, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue, etc.), and write music for television commercials. (Indeed, this album's single "Oh Boy" became a belated hit a year or so after the album's release when it was used for a European car advertisement.) Musically, the lush downtempo electronica of Idle Luxury sounds like some of the best elements of Saint Etienne, Stereolab, and Broadcast with those bands' quirkier aspects carefully burnished off in favor of an unapologetically commercial gloss. Songs like the brightly poppy, horn-driven "If Only" and the skittering electro-pop "Oh Boy" have much more personality than the blandly focus-grouped likes of Dirty Vegas, and a few songs -- especially the alluring, flirty "Jukebox," which sounds like an old Lesley Gore tune given a synth-age makeover, and the atypically noisy, Cardigans-like indie pop/rocker "Collision" -- are genuinely great. It's just hard to avoid imagining these 13 songs (including the hidden bonus track) as the background music on high-end home makeover shows on basic cable: entirely pleasant, but just slightly too slick.