Mr. Oizo

The Church

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The Church is mischievous producer/director Quentin Dupieux's first non-soundtrack album as Mr. Oizo since Stade 2, as well as his Brainfeeder debut. Despite these firsts, the album isn't a radical departure; Dupieux riffs on several styles -- including trap, dubstep, and grime -- with Mr. Oizo's cartoonish flair. Compared to some of Brainfeeder's other artists, his output isn't as experimental, but his willingness to play and provoke offers kind of a palate cleanser -- or comic relief. Where Stade 2's squiggly workouts were often defiantly, perversely undanceable, on The Church Mr. Oizo delivers songs driven by relentless beats even as their collective mood flits between playful and ominous (tipping all the way to the latter on "Dry Run," where a pitch-shifted voice rumbles "scream for Daddy!"). The album's standouts turn Dupieux's gift for making music that straddles the line between catchy and irritating into a virtue: "Bear Biscuit" begins the album with finely chopped samples and hip-hop-tinged beats that feel like The Church's biggest nod to Brainfeeder's aesthetic. Elsewhere, "Ham"'s frantic repetition and the wobbly wind-up toy of a track that is "Mass Doom" reaffirm that Dupieux's cheekiness has some depth. Too often, though, the album feels superficial and dashed-off, with more than a few tracks tracing similar templates before fizzling out. Songs such as "Machyne"'s study in answering machine anxiety, the brief yet monotonous "Memorex," and the title track's empty menace feel at best like self-aware parodies of Dupieux's approach. While the best songs here are entertaining individually, they tend to diminish each other within the album's context. With his other film and music projects beckoning, it's not surprising that Dupieux is spread thin, but on The Church, Mr. Oizo is also wearing thin.

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