Electric Guest - Mondo Album Review
Strange to think that anything as inoffensive as Mondo could be so divisive, but in the one corner the critical knives are out for Electric Guest, a top hack describing their sound as "The kind of tartazine soul that Plan B deals in", whilst in the opposite corner they've managed to garner the view from another that they're "A hipster's take on cheese".
The cheese in question is not Edam but in fact a hybrid of early seventies groovy kitsch (The spunky opener Awake), cod-Motown finger snapping retrology (The Bait) and noughties transatlantic soul a la Mark Ronson (Waves). Comprising duo Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton, Electric Guest had sufficient pulling power to recruit Danger Mouse to take on production duties, so perhaps the bygone sounds they've produced shouldn't be too much of a surprise given that Mondo was recorded in his supposedly time warped studio. One of its most intriguing aspects is Taccone's voice, which skirts around in the upper register flitting between sexes in an attractive way assuming the role of Diana Ross or Denny Doherty, in the former mode with particularly spine tingling effect on the stand out This Head I Hold.
What with a backward looking sound - and a very download shifting one - along with a guru name producer, in many respects it was always going to be difficult for Taccone and Compton to get out from under and earn much respect. There is evidence that they can stretch the palette quite effectively though when required, as the more lugubrious American Day Dream combines a denim, pass-the-doobie vibe with some trademark DM analogue synth lines to paint a singularly beige picture. This anti-party vibe also extends to Holes, a more psychedelic take on pop which wouldn't have sounded out of place on Body Language's sun dappled Social Studies EP.
Simply put, when Mondo is good, it's very good. Perversely though, the smart career move that snagging a big name maestro may have looked like on face value could for now have cost the pair a shot at the big time. It may be that next time they just borrow the gear, rather than the man's mind, in the process putting to bed any nagging doubts about who's really running the show.
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