Album Review – Chromeo: White Women

I once read a fan theory that all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies not only take place in the same cinematic universe, but are also as hyper-violent and pop-culture obsessed as they are because of the events in Inglorious Basterds. A rag tag bunch of Jewish soldiers basically end World War II on their own in personal and brutal fashion, creating a culture of violence the world over. What does that have to do with electro-funk band Chromeo’s new album, White Women? Well, Chromeo clearly exists in a time when ’70s funk and soul never left pop music, making ’80s synth and ’90s R&B direct decedents. White Women is a fun concept album where the coolest guy in the room is also the most insecure. It’s not obscure enough to be a complete inside joke, and those that get it will love it.

White Women stars a ladies man who has completely lost trust in the opposite sex. The album opening song, “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” plainly says in the chorus, “I get jealous, but I’m too cool to admit it”—a theme throughout the album. Each song comes off like a Lothario who has clearly lost his mojo. The Canadian duo excel in creating awkward situations through song and have fun doing it. One such song is “Over Your Shoulder,” where each line is like a how-to on how not to pick up a woman, from backhanded compliments about her small breasts to lines about bathroom sex. This man may never find another woman again.

Technically speaking, White Women is well put together. The sound is very similar to other Chromeo outings with an emphasis on pop and dance appeal. Even if you don’t like the concept, you can’t help but dance to it. Not going as far as to call them contemporary opportunists, but the similarities to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories are numerous: the use of voice distorting audio boxes and highly rhythmic basslines. Then there are the feature artists, and while they’re not necessarily as pedigreed as the features on Random Access Memories, they speak to an eclectic audience that would appreciate their presence. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, Toro y Moi, Solange Knowles, LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney, and Fool’s Gold duo Oliver make up the guests on the twelve-track LP. While none of them are stand-out appearances, very seldom do they distract in a negative way either. The two questionable features belong to Ezra Koeing and Solange Knowles. The former only popping up for a two-minute interlude that just seems like a favor to a friend. As for Knowels, her performance screams, “I don’t get this concept.” Her appearance really comes off as a song on a completely different album.

White Women is a musically sound, electro-funk album that doesn’t take itself seriously in all the right ways. While it can suffer from simplistic rhyme schemes from time to time, the highlights truly outshine the less impressive moments. At its worst, it’s a clumsy, lyrical mess (“Sexy Socialite”). At its best, it’s a fun deconstruction of dance genres that’ll make for a great summer album that you don’t have to over-think in order to enjoy. I wouldn’t want to live in this alternate musical timeline forever, but it’s a damn fine place to visit.

Originally published onInyourspeakers.com (05/29/2014)

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