Phillips is unashamedly kitsch with few exceptions. But to portray it as just another retro cash-in would be a serious disservice. Lauer has been writing music for over a decade and it's readily apparent. His tracks are packed with distinctive synth lines, none of which ever seem to collide. And though his creations refer heavily to the past, it's not their raison d'être. (Perhaps except for "Miamisync," which channels the excesses of Jan Hammer's 1985 Miami Vice tracks.) Like much of Lauer's previous work, Phillips is chiefly concerned with having fun. (It's hard to imagine anyone plopping down in the dark to enjoy the album on headphones.) Phillips is not possessed with a well-defined narrative arc or logical sequence—nor does this matter. Its infectious jams actually seem to render these concepts temporarily irrelevant; the tracks are too joyous for anyone to worry about what's coming next.
Take the fourth cut, "Hafflinger." Only a cold-hearted person could fail to be swayed by its cascading xylophone hits or the sustained whirling pattern they later take on. Hell, even its supporting cast―twitchy electric piano and tuba-like bass―are captivating. "Hafflinger" is just the best example, but all the tracks on Phillips are doozies in some way or another. Slicked with greasy synths, the broken-beat "Sheldor" shows off electro's more expansive side; "Coppers" touches on nu disco via trembling bass and bright swathes of chords; while "Frontex Slowfox" gets a tad sleazy, rallying around descending licks of prairie guitar.
Too often, the word "fun" is used to excuse inane music. But in utterly embracing gaudiness, and presenting it via superb songwriting, Lauer has sidestepped cheese and wrote a marvellous album in doing so.