"Outer space where proggy disco is the superior race" is where we can assume Mungolian Jet Set came from, or at least wish they had. Their previous efforts and the wacky folklore they exude had made this pretty clear already, but never so much as on Schlungs. Barbarella-style cosmic misadventures, '70s funk, disco and even the odd film theme are slathered over the usual clattering ethnic instrumentals and grubby basslines. But the aforementioned lyric—from the album's pre-release single, "Moon Jocks N Prog Rocks"—discloses an attitude towards kitsch and cliché that doesn't so much treat these qualities with good judgment as go at them full-throttle and, as a result, neatly sidestep their negative aspects.
Their third album (which is actually their first made entirely of original tunes) is the logical conclusion to their discography thus far. Starting with 2006's experimental electronica-jazz-disco hybrid Beauty Came to Us in Stone, they've gradually reduced the chromatic squiggling and have ended up at their least esoteric, most emotionally upbeat album yet. Schlungs scans more like the art-pop of 10cc's How Dare You than an introverted journey like The Wall. This is due in no small part to the inclusion of "Bella Lenay" smack in the middle, which takes the riff from Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and gives it five double espressos. It's a hugely enjoyable track that bounds in effervescently and keeps up the energy throughout; it's not easy to make a track that feels this effortless.
Although the last three tracks aren't beatmatched, they move through each other and carry the album out with the flow of a DJ set. "Moonstruck" feels decidedly penultimate, and "Smoke N Mirrors" decidedly climactic. The closing lyrics, "I gotta shake my booty just one last time," give away the fact that this isn't a coincidence. Despite giving the impression that they don't take things seriously, the tightness of everything here suggests that they know exactly what they're doing.
Those who might find all of this cavorting a bit too silly would be missing the point: the whole thing is reeled off with such intention and gusto that to call it trite would be like criticising a steamroller for being big. While it would be sad to see them go too far down this road, Schlungs does nothing to diminish Mungolian Jet Set's reputation as one of the most genuinely entertaining acts around.
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Tracklist: Mungolian Jet Set - Schlungs 01. 2011 - A Space Woodysey
02. Moon Jocks n Prog Rocks
03. Shelton's On A Bender
04. Bella Lanay
05. Ties n Downs
06. We Are The Shining
08. Smoke n Mirrors