That's how Gerardo Delgado and Quinn Whalley, the duo known as Paranoid London, introduce their debut album in a press release they wrote themselves. You may be tempted to write off an act so self-congratulatory, but Paranoid London's music is too strong to be ignored. Many people know them from "Paris Dub 1," an outrageously catchy acid groover from 2012. In clubs like the ones they brag about "destroying," the tune was such a hit that it eventually became too popular for self-respecting DJs to keep playing. None of their other tracks made as big a splash, though many of them are nearly as good. Paranoid London, which came out on vinyl in 2014 and has just been released digitally, brings together 11 of their productions so far.
You could accuse Paranoid London of being both derivative and formulaic. All of their tracks draw from a tradition more than 20 years old—that is, jacking, Chicago-style acid house—and follow a consistent blueprint: gravelly drums, grubby 303s, usually a guest vocalist. But it's hard to fault them when the results work so well. Delgado and Whalley have a rare gift for hooks—whether it's an earworm vocal ("Paris Dub 1") or just a snappy rim-shot pattern ("Light Tunnel"), they put things together in a way that grabs your attention and keeps you coming back.
Traditional as Paranoid London's production style may be, their overall attitude is unmistakably theirs. Many of the tracks have a salty, punk-ish edge that's rare in dance music, especially the ones with Mulato Pintado, an indie singer/songwriter who describes party scenarios—or "late night escapades"—with a deadpan that recalls Lou Reed and Iggy Pop more than any house vocalist.
Paranoid London's other go-to collaborator is American house artist Paris Brightledge, though he only takes center stage on one track here: the mighty "Paris Dub 1." As retro as the track may be, the sheer strength of Brightledge's performance—from the lyrics about life on the street to the relentlessly catchy melody—means it still feels fresh three years later. For me, it's on par with Brightledge classics like the 1987 anthem "It's All Right."
Even without the guest vocalists, Delgado and Whalley's productions are animated by an unusual knack for songwriting and composition. On one hand, the album is almost brazen in its monotony, doling out lo-fi acid tracks one after another (a friend of mine compared it to the Taco Bell menu for its ability to find so many combinations of the same few ingredients). And yet, each production has a way of making itself stand out, whether its with a crafty flourish like the sooner-than-expected drop on "Loving U (Ahh Shit)," or an oddly addictive quasi-hook, like the gibberish vocal on "Headtrack." Though Pintado helps brings it out, that sleazy aura is present in the beats alone, and helped along by track titles like "Eating Glue" and "300 Hangovers A Year." In their command of simple riffs and gritty vibes, Delgado and Whalley have a raw expressiveness that recalls bands like Suicide.
One odd thing about Paranoid London is the abridged track lengths: a few of the big singles were a minute or so longer on 12-inch, and even the previously unreleased "Light Tunnel" simply fades out after less than six. Maybe that's not surprising—purists like these two will want to keep the original records special—but it's hard not to feel a little teased by this. Still, there are worse things than to be left wanting more.
Tue / 2 Feb 2016
01. Light Tunnel feat. Mutado Pintado
02. Transmission 5 feat. Mutado Pintado
04. Paris Dub 3 feat. Paris Brightledge
05. Machines Are Coming
06. Lovin U (Ahh Shit) feat. DJ Genesis
07. We Ain't
08. Eating Glue feat. Mutado Pintado
09. 300 Hangovers A Year feat. Mutado Pintado
10. Paris Dub 1 feat. Paris Brightledge
11. Line Up Meltdown feat. Mutado Pintado