Six years is a long time. For Digitalism, they've filled this time (as it's been 6 years from the release of their highly-influential instrumental monster “Zdarlight,” with a large amount of remix work. They also had the time to release their debut album, Idealism. A lot has happened since then. The time spent re-working other artists' tracks (Tiga, The Presets, Daft Punk) has given the band a lot to think about. And this time and effort has translated into somewhat of a full-circle metamorphosis for them. See, Digitalism cites Daft Punk as their major influence, and it's easy to see that this is incorporated in their music. But in creating the electro powerhouse that is “Zdarlight,” Digitalism left a strong imprint on the scene that would lend itself to future electro projects from artists like Tiga and The Presets. These artists then reached out to Digitalism, further progressing the cycle, leaving their own unique imprint on the German duo. So in turn, Digitalism's sound on their new 2011 album, I Love You Dude, is influenced by the artists they influenced, while still maintaining that obvious Daft Punk vibe. The amalgamation is complex and interesting, and leads to the 11-track album being entertaining, yet disjointed, from beginning to end.
Digitalism flips between vibes quite frequently on I Love You Dude. Yes, there is fun to be had on every track presented here, but the unifying feeling that comes with a coherent album is lacking from this outing. Not a major downside, as every track can be successfully lifted and maintain context and meaning. But influences are clear from track to track, and as easy as it is to feel Daft Punk oozing from every chunky beat on “Blitz,” the same can be said about The Presets' obvious influence on tracks like “Circles” and “Miami Showdown.” The latter track is instrumental but still has the feel of a Presets track- which is another plus about I Love You, Dude. The prevalence of compelling instrumental tracks is an achievement in itself. To provide not only the aforementioned “Blitz” and “Miami Showdown,” but also the album opener “Stratosphere” and raucous closer “Encore?” Four strong instrumental tracks that lack the feel of filler and might be a bit killer is a plus in my book.
Equally compelling are the pair's vocal tracks. The voice of the group isn't stellar but it is complementary, bringing to mind the feel-good male singers of the 80s. Vocal ability wasn't needed, just a great hook and the enthusiasm to keep the audience singing from beginning to end. That can easily be found on “Forrest Gump,” the album's strongest offering, but also on other, similar vocal track “2 Hearts.” Only “Forrest Gump” was co-written by Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, but both have the drive of a carefree electronic pop track. The album's other vocal tracks take far different directions, with “Antibiotics” and “Reeperbahn” delving deep into electro territory with minimal vocals that sound sampled. And still in another direction is “Just Gazin'," which is simplistic and beautiful with overlapped male and female vocals over a slow and ponderous beat.
I Love You, Dude showcases the talents of a pair of genuinely talented individuals, but more so than that, allows us inside the minds of the artists a bit to see their growth. The ability to feed off the style of the groups you remix is interesting, and it makes for an interesting listen, giving the album an edge in a truly competitive market. “Encore” takes the cake for the instrumental offerings, while “Forrest Gump,” followed closely by “Just Gazin',” are among the best of the vocal tracks. I Love You, Dude, deserves all the attention it gets.
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