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.