wears the trousers magazine

lindstrøm & christabelle: real life is no cool (2010)
January 11, 2010, 9:00 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , ,

Lindstrøm & Christabelle
Real Life is No Cool ••••½
Smalltown Supersound

The steady ascendency of disco (in the classic rather than the ‘Night Fever’ sense) over the last few years seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. In an alternative universe, or perhaps the early ’80s, this album would be the one to refract a little of the mirrorball light away from the current crop of young female-fronted synth-pop and on to something a little more substantial. Lindstrøm’s own new disco sound has been around for a good few years now, but seems to have all been distilled into this album. Disco musings like his last album (which included the eponymous epic 28-minute track, ‘Where You Go I Go Too’) are overshadowed by the combination of brevity and depth that he shows on Real Life Is No Cool, which seems him joining with veteran collaborator Christabelle (aka Solale).

Real Life Is No Cool listens like a potted history of the disco movement, but rarely sounds dated. Sure, to a Lindstrøm virgin it might reek of Studio 54 and poppers, but step down from your white Palomino and there’s a rich and subtle album here. Kicking off with a near-unlistenable intro of reversed vocals (very ironic in a song about getting comfortable), recognisable elements begin to emerge  with natural ease. Spidery, sometimes funky synth is overlaid on a pulsating, progressive, hypnotic rhythm and complemented by Christabelle’s starry-eyed, reverb-laden vocal, somehow sounding disembodied yet intimate. This template is repeated as the album unfolds, gaining a hip-hop swagger with second track ‘Lovesick’. Though tempered with synth-sparkles on the bassline, already it’s clear that Real Life… is an album with some serious intent.

Familiar from any number of compilations, and perhaps one of Lindstrøm’s most-heard tunes, third track ‘Law Of Life’ boasts a simple, propulsive beat and a crescendo-like cadence that’s easy to latch onto. The album then takes a softer turn, evidenced by a more pronounced use of Christabelle’s vocals. There’s a hazy post-club optimism in ‘Keep It Up’, which segues into the reflective and neatly autobiographic ‘Music In My Mind’. Purring vocals and progressive chords keep the vibe muted. Then, as if pulling itself from a sticky bar stool, the album comes alive with some surefire dancefloor-fillers. Trumpets and a bassline shamelessly ‘adapted’ from Michael Jackson’s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’ signal a shift to a funkier vibe.

Despite the obvious ’70s influences, the treatment to ‘Baby Can’t Stop’ is perfectly modern, blending the classic rhythm beautifully with spaced-out vocals. It’s less of a look back to the golden age of disco, more a taking of all those elements and mixing them into something that feels futuristic. Even ‘Let’s Practice’, which liberally borrows from the seminal Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder track ‘I Feel Love’, feels fresh. Instead of dreaminess, Christabelle infects the track with an almost severe clarity as Lindstrøm loops in handclaps and other minimal techno effects,  a combination that spins this disco classic right round. Then you come gently back down; there’s no lingering over a tune, no spinning a rhythm out over 20 minutes.

While it could easily have been drawn out across two or even three discs of extended mixes, the great thing about this Real Life Is No Cool is that it works just as well as a continuous mix as it does ten fantastic standalone songs. The album’s components always seem to have arranged themselves rather than having been put together, and it’s this apparent effortlessness that helps this album slip down with ease. Real life may not be all that, but Lindstrøm and Christabelle’s ray of illuminated disco heaven definitely is.

Seb Law
UK release date: 25/01/10; www.myspace.com/feedelity


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