I Love You, Dude
Before they became a major international concern, the electro duo Justice were maligned as a group who existed simply to plug the gaps between Daft Punk albums. A cynic might claim that the Hamburg outfit Digitalism, whose beats, basslines, synths and thoroughly punk rock ethos owe more than a little to the aforementioned groups, have taken up the undesirable mantle of the electro stopgaps du jour.
But although Jence Moelle and Isi Tüfekçi can't quite compete with their Parisian counterparts on sonic dynamism and sheer invention, their second album is a triumph nonetheless.
The opener Stratosphere has a thundering bassline that brings to mind their harder-edged German counterparts Moderat, while 2 Hearts has a gloriously summery shoegaze-meets-synth-pop aesthetic. From Circles to Blitz and Antibiotics, almost every song has a thumping bassline, sprinkled with glow-sticks-in-the-air synths that will be sure to get crowds heaving at festivals to nightclubs alike.
Aside from the awful title and some occasionally blank vocals from Moelle, there's almost nothing not to like. The only real low point is Forrest Gump; co-written with Julian Casablancas, the slow-burning number sounds like a computerised Strokes song and slows the album to a comparative snail's pace.
But with both huge sounds and a keener songwriting sensibility than before, on their second album Digitalism have cut a path that is unmistakably their own.
From the rapper DOOM to the dubstep producer Burial, most artists who try to remain masked and anonymous while performing produce mysterious music. From the UK, the African mask-wearing producer Sbtrkt ("subtract") is an exception. His debut full-length album features an array of vocalists, and is reminiscent of James Blake's debut. But whereas Blake paints in monochrome, Sbtrkt is more like Technicolor... but not always as colourful as it should be.