Chromeo returns with a delectable '80s-driven collection of songs that could have easily come from dance montage and strutting scenes in a pseudo-John Hughes movie. Business Casual rides a heavy dose of synthesizers and Casio-keyboard style electronic beats to create uniquely (if homage-heavy) textured dance tracks. And several times, an original song has just enough in common with an at least somewhat recognizable '80s staple that it's impossible not to latch on purely out of nostalgia. At their best moments they capture the musical eloquence of LCD Soundsystem without the vulnerability and honesty, and at their worst the music is simply fun, unadorned by any life-changing lyrics or mind-blowing electronic work. They do take chances, don't mistake that, but some of the chances seem like variations on a chance previously taken. Business Casual is a great album, loaded with catchy hooks, and delightful music. It puts Chromeo on par with a personal favorite of mine, Cut Copy, and this band succeeds through a consistent and well-paced collection. And Chromeo willfully calls back to electronic music's past, reaching out to Daft Punk and to a lesser extent the sweet beginnings of Erasure.
The track opens with the soundtrack-y "Hot Mess," which effectively blends a Bravo/internet meme and turns into a song you could see Molly Ringwald putting on 11 bracelets and a veil to. "I'm Not Contagious" brings in more vocal manipulation, giving it the vibe that robots are on the way, and they want to dance. The lyrics are fairly cliche, but it's a love song built around getting the girl through the charmingly touch-in-cheek titular claim. "Night by Night" is maybe the most solid track on the album, leading with a slightly altered "Eye Of The Tiger"-like riff, and building into a delightful dance refrain that grows progressively more electronic. The same praise can be foisted up on "Don't Turn The Lights On," which has the best and most original lyrics on the album, with a sweet Junior Boys'-esque vulnerability and delicacy. "You Make It Rough" is central opus, invoking growling vocals and numerous changes over 7 minutes. It also features a breakdown that occurs about 5 minutes in is both entrancing and disorienting. On "When The Night Falls" they tread back into the Junior Boys territory, decorating a smooth, faux-R&B track with fast-talking calm lyrics and climbing xylophonic garnishes. "Don't Walk Away" is a bit bland, but it leads to "J'ai Claque La Porte" and the French track's soft, rhythmic lyrics that seem here to use the vocals, more than anywhere on the album, as an instrument in and of themselves. The album closes relatively strong, but also relatively uninspired. "The Right Type" feels like an '80s television show theme that plays over the expository title and cast-credit screens (think: Perfect Strangers). And "Grow Up" is sort of a bland closer that feels simply like Chromeo ran out of gas after 7 and half great tracks.
If you are a fan of any of the bands to which I compared Chromeo's Business Casual then this is a must-have. The album holds its own and feels fresh, and while it doesn't specifically reward re-listening, it is definitely built to hear over and over without becoming tired. This won't change your life, but it will make a for a solid party, and maybe some good psyche up music as you approach the work day. And it's all catchy enough that you're sure to get a few of these tracks stuck up in your brain zone.
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