If Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has been working seemingly at breakneck for the past several years, the resulting records might live long enough to allow him a decade's rest. His reputation: secure. Though the last two have seen Lindstrom's debut proper, Where You Go I Go Too, and a second full-length collaboration with longtime beardo buddy Prins Thomas, II, the roots to Real Life Is No Cool actually predate both of those albums. What begin in 2001 as the most informal of projects —Christabelle laid some vocals down on top of Lindstrøm productions played for her by her brother, who then sent the tracks to Lindstrøm himself—eventually led to two singles on HP-L's own label, Feedelity, credited to Lindstrøm & Solale: the slow, strident strut of 2003's "Music (In My Mind)" and the spacious starry-eyed disco of 2005's "Let's Practice" (both of which are included here).
For fans of the Norwegian producer then, the intervening years have been ones of impatience, a series of rumors about a full-length project resulting, now, finally, in Real Life Is No Cool. So I suppose it's a good thing that the record feels so, well, monumental. Blunt talk in January: You may not hear a better dance-pop album before the year peters out.
Described by Lindstrøm as a collaboration sparked by a kind of "structured chaos," Christabelle improvised lyrics during their jam sessions. Lindstrøm then edited and reshaped the results, stitching them into slightly more formal songs in the studio. But don't think this technique lends itself to the starchy noodling of LPT II with a guest on the mic. If it's facile to analogize Christabelle as the Donna Summer to Lindstrøm's Giorgio Moroder, the comparison at least approximates the affinity achieved between them on record. Though grounded in Lindstrøm's epic-journey space disco, the album offers a far more wide-screened survey of dance music's past than we've heard from him yet. Whether it's the Off the Wall horn-and-synth hook of standout "Baby Can't Stop," the warm lounge-around feel of closer "High & Low" or the loose piano house and friedbrain guitar soloing of "So Much Fun," the record snatches bits and pieces from almost 40 years of dance music and molds them into a full-length often as cohesive and shrewdly sequenced as the best commercial mixes.
For a producer who high-watermarked with a three song, 55 minute slab of proggy Jarre/Göttsching/Schulze-inspired Autobahnisms, Real Life is notable for the precision of its appeals: ten tracks, most of them shorter than five minutes. For all of the backward-vocal bits; for its lyrics that seem to have lost more than a little sense in translation; for the moments it wanders astray in its own warped headspace; for the times when Lindstrøm sews a broken fragment of voice or sound into a track's deep-night atmospheres or briefly revels in deconstruction as on "Never Say Never," Real Life Is No Cool never slips far from the savvy craftsmanship at its center. It's a decidedly psychedelic brand of dance-pop, sure, one that submerges as much as it elevates, but it ain't for couches or futons. It should play, for years to come, to people gone breathless in big sweaty groups.
Buy Lindstrøm & Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool at
Tracklist: Lindstrøm & Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool 01. Looking for What
03. Let It Happen
04. Keep It Up
05. Music In My Mind
06. Baby Can't Stop
07. Let's Practise
08. So Much Fun
09. Never Say Much
10. High & Low
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