If you're looking for something unconventional, off the beaten path, and very atypical for the mainstream scene, look no further than the gritty and dark electro sound of Dada Life. One of the most appealing facts about Just Do The Dada, their debut album, is that not everyone will get it, like it, or appreciate it. That's just fine for me, because I happen to do all three. I was smitten from my first listen of "Happy Hands & Happy Feet," a maliciously dark track with simplistic vocals that are warped and sound like the evil clown in the Twisted Metal video game series. But with a track as eclectic as this, could the rest of the album compare?
Dizzy is a fantastic description for the album. A lot of the album feels musically dizzying (not in that nauseating way) and it channels that twisted circus image that I feel permeates "Happy Hands...", but they also keep it fresh with a variety of musical concepts that peek out here and there. Nothing really dwarfs the overall feel of the album, but it is nice to see a little filtered disco on "We Set You Free," and a breakbeat Orbital-style party vibe on "Don't Snort the Yellow Snow" while still maintaining that underground after party feel.
A Touch of Bjork
A dizzy electronic swirl accompanies a brilliant snippet of Bjork's "Modern Times" on "No Need For Machines," a vocal sample that was a little tough to identify but caught me way off guard when I realized what it was. I was quite pleased to hear this radical interpretation of a track from Bjork's best years. "Don't Feed The Dada" feels like a dizzy dance romp with warped vocal sounds overtop an insistent and punchy beat, and the melodies on "Love Vibrations" is just as dizzy as the manipulated vocals. "Cheap Thrills for a Lost Generation" stutters along at a breakneck pace and also makes me wonder how groups come up with names like this for instrumental tracks. I can't pinpoint anything in this song that would make me think, "Ah, this is "Cheap Thrills for a Lost Generation"!", but I digress.
Go Bleep Yourself
"Cheap Thrills" is followed by a lolita track that reminds me of Ladytron's "Seventeen," "Sweet Little Bleepteen". The track has more vocals than most of the songs on Just Do The Dada, a grungy male voice that slides like oil on water over the techy instrumentation. And yes, the word "bleep" is used often. It is fun that Dada Life censor themselves. They are totally doing their label's job of making all of their tracks radio friendly. How considerate! I think "bleep" should be used more frequently and far more creatively in music. Pay attention to Dada Life, people, they are doing something fun! Not only is "Bleepteen" vocally edited, the process is already completed by the group for "Let's Get Bleeped Tonight." There is a subtle feel of Daft Punk that occurs through "Bleeped Tonight." Any video game lover will find something to love in "So You Wanna Be A Prankster?", a track that incorporates classic 8-bit noises in with the group's techy sound for a feel-good electro bouncer.
"The Perfect Itch" starts off
sounding like the most generic electro track on the album, but there
are a few starts and stops and interesting effects thrown in to keep
you interested, although it is far from the best track. It is a good
mark that a track that may be the worst on an album still finds some
way to keep my interest. The final track on the album, "Right There,"
wraps up Just Do The Dada
with a Royksopp-like roll and the closest
thing this album has to a ballad. Ballad is such a loose term it
makes Paris Hilton look like an abstinence advocate, but it was the
first and best word to come to mind.
This album is surely eclectic. While my favorite track is
"Happy Hands & Happy Feet," there is a lot of replay value to the
tracks contained on Just Do The Dada. I would love to see them take
this sound as a foundation and build it into something massive.
They've made a fantastic start.
CD Released September 2009 on The Hours.