Review of Datarock's album Red released through Nettwerk on 8th June 2009.
The Norwegian synth-pop duo returns with the follow up to their debut album. You'll be pleased to know the matching tracksuits and shades are still there, as is their tongue in cheek attitude to their music.
Sampling all too familiar riffs, hooks and even lyrics, gives the album a definite nostalgic feel. Perfectly described in their blog as 'retrofuturism', Datarock manage to drag the 80s kicking and screaming into the future. Red is drenched in 80s references, the band profess that all the instruments used to make the album were made before 1983 - and its all synths, drum machines and electric guitar, just as you'd expect. This is Datarock's modern day celebration of the culture and technology of the late 70s - early 80s.
It kicks off with epic cheering crowds and the creator of the internet talking about his invention and just gets weirder from there. Fear Of Death for example is essentially all spoken word - a man ranting over menacing synths about well, his fear of death. Datarock have never been shy about their influences and Red is no different. True Stories takes all its lyrics from Talking Heads song titles and The Pretender is a Disco classic with more than a nod to Duran Duran. The brilliant cheesy, A-ha inspired Amarillion is a real stand-out track. A much mellower, guitar based offering, but with a great melody and hook that will keep it in your head all day.
As an album, Red is a bit of a mixed bag - dance tracks and chilled out, lounge numbers, and it's also a little less excessive than their self titled debut. Maybe that's the reason it lacks initial impact? But that doesn't seem to matter; with the familiar references, after a couple of listens, Red already sounds like a classic.