Since the demise of LCD Soundsystem, a gap has been left on the so-called disco-punk scene, and for many it seemed oddball Danish band and all-around partyers WhoMadeWho were the ones to fill it. Fair enough: they have the background, the connections and the talent to step into the breach. That said, the fact neither Tomas Barfod, Tomas Høffding or Jeppe Kjellberg is a truly charismatic and distinctive frontman à la James Murphy was always going to be a problem, despite the rather unique combination of voices they can offer.
They work best as a propulsive, funk-fueled combinatory collective anyway, as they proved last year on Knee Deep, a mini-album filled with new-wave-pop-meets-Teutonic-house nuggets they released—surprisingly enough—on Kompakt. Yet, as the "Every Minute Alone" single reiterated with a mercurial remix from Michael Mayer (not to mention Tale of Us or Life and Death's own ominous takes), WhoMadeWho's music can transfer quite well to the more discerning dance floor, as it is now clearly their ambition. New album Brighter furthers these leanings and parades the band's flair as much as their limits.
Current single "Inside World" is a case in point, as the original—as immediate and catchy as it is—needs the likes of Detone and Digitalism (in unforeseen subdued mode on the 12-inch) to make the proper album-to-dance floor transition. They are, however, truly on to something when they indulge in sinuous melodies and Goldfrapp-ian glam stomping ("The Sun") or in metronomic, This is Happening outtake-like pulses ("The Divorce"). On "Never Had the Time," they even venture into frozen Italo territories, not unlike what Vitalic did on his last album. But as soon as they deviate from the album's overall template, it feels like unnecessary digressions: even though "Fireman" reconciles the trio with their more indie roots, through its campfire strumming and debonair vocal harmonies, it uncomfortably sticks out next to its surroundings. "The End," meanwhile, is an utter sonic mess that combines woeful vocals and directionless synthetic buzzes.
The six-minute album coda, "Below the Cherry Moon," is also its most end-of-set dance floor-friendly cut—it's the album's longest track and on it the Danish trio finds delight in the same kind of bittersweet tweeness that made Metronomy's last long-player so endearing to some. Yet, moments like these don't particularly justify WhoMadeWho's place on the Kompakt roster and how they fit next to the label's recent signees such as The Field or Walls. However, even though Brighter falls short, in this context it does illustrates that the indie WhoMadeWho infuse their dance with has more funk and attitude than most.
Buy WhoMadeWho - Brighter at
Tracklist: WhoMadeWho - Brighter 01. Inside World
02. Running Man
04. The Sun
06. The Divorce
07. Never Had The Time
08. Head On My Pillow
09. Skinny Dipping
10. The End
11. Below The Cherry Moon
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