It could be said that the Ontarian producer has had a somewhat uneven career thus far, one that's gone from the unifying ("Bay of Figs") to the schismatic ("Techno Vocals"). The 2010 Drift long-player at least had the decency to be a homogeneous affair, its content drenched in echoing guitar riffs and cavernous, pounding basslines. Undercover, in contrast, is lighter in tone, almost frivolous at times (in other words, don't let that zombie Lincoln cover art confound you: gone are Drift's pseudo goth leanings).
There is a definite, quite obvious playfulness at work on the album's title track and first single, especially the way mischievous vocals constantly get interrupted by unexpected sonic twists. "Undercover"'s sense of carefree cheeriness is also reproduced on the undulating "Very Bad" and "Bink," although both tracks may have worked better with the appropriate vocal snippets (as demonstrated on album closer "Under the Neath"). On the more successful instrumental side of things, production-wise, house gets nostalgic with two effective odes to early Chicago acid house ("Juno 6660" and "Mooder"), while "Am Am Am" offers the same kind of tense atmosphere you'd recognize from his breakthrough "Bay of Figs" cut.
Just to make sure his tracks kept their dance floor credentials, Houle preceded the release of his new album with a mix for the XLR8R podcast series earlier this year, on which almost the entire contents of Undercover is re-sequenced and blended into an organic, consistent whole. Interestingly enough, these days Houle is also releasing low-key '80s-inclined synth-pop material under the Raid Over Moscow moniker on Tiga's Turbo Recordings. These two separate aspects of his personality are easy to hear on Undercover, and although you wish he'd better synthesize them at times, the fact he has obviously moved past his own self-restrained seriousness is cause for celebration.