I can't shift the sense of an Eighties run-through. It sounds like Hot Chip a bit, like The Knife a bit. But more pedestrian. After The 2 Bears pushed out some sunny house nuggets earlier this year, I was all for Hot Chip side projects (even with actual Hot Chip-ness on the horizon); but the first few tracks light not my touchpaper.
I like "Schism of the Mind": perhaps because it features fewer lyrics. It has a bass bubble and a limping cowbell. As if sensing my early dismissal, "Do You Not Feel Loved?" counteracts my negativity with a swift move towards genuinely-anthemic house music. Hands in the air, yes; but wearing smug white clothing and expensive shades, fuck no.
"The Third One" slips back into the strangled pop/rock mode, smells too much of a studio. Smells like the theme tune to some cop buddy movie released around 1992 that never did that well. They need to step nearer the good keyboards and further away from the bad keyboards - the ones that seem to have a "Bad Version of ZE Records disco funk" button on them.
I do not see pop visionaries. I hear the unhappy ghost of Kenny Loggins. "Mercy", that counts for you too. I don't know who died and made me Emperor of Contempt but they got me here just in time.
"When the city is asleep/And the news is coming in/Of another city's sudden, sad demise" is a very curious way to start a song. Mysterious. "Finding Reasons" has an emotional centre, if a rather strange one - and I like the random guitar wail that scribbles itself all over the last third. And the trailing steel pans that see it off.
And they're back on "Last Gasp" together with low-in-the-mix strings and a parpy synth. Which also works for me. No cathedrals are demolished by it, but it moves neatly along. Then it ends with advice on how "to escape the silence and the muttering".
I get the feeling of someone thinking about what they're doing. But it doesn't quite come off. Pop fingers they haven't.
Rating: Hot Chip Henchmen Getting out of The Wrong Car