By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Electroclash never promised to cure loneliness. As two-thirds of now-defunct U.K. psych-poppers Simian, James Ford and James Shaw kinda did. Remixed by French electro duo Justice, Simian's "We Are Your Friends" (née "Never Be Alone") has kept clubgoers company worldwide, with an award-winning video that made Kanye West act out like a jilted John McEnroe.
Under goofy sideline name Simian Mobile Disco, Ford and Shaw have now taken Justice's house-as-rock approach someplace even friendlier: house-as-pop. The English twosome's early singles got their acid-squelched synths and icy beats down, all right. But they never skimped on hooks, either, and neither does Attack Decay Sustain Release, whether it's the Go! Team's Ninja cheerleading through "It's the Beat" or New York singer Char Johnson provoking the RIAA on "Hustler." It's love song "I Believe," though, that really sets the group apart from 2007's other big-beat revivalists, draping ex-Simian bandmate Simon Lord's FutureSex'd croon in Italo-disco shimmer. By keeping its heart, the result edges out Justice's more brutal for most exciting, um, "blog house" debut of the year.
It could've been "nu rave." Ford produced U.K. indie-dance hypes Klaxons, not to mention Arctic Monkeys. Like those bands, though, Simian Mobile Disco probably logged more hours at rock festivals than raves. Barry Dobbin of former U.K. indie-poppers Clor calls out between laser-synth swoops on "Love," while "Hot Dog" takes "It's the Beat" to its logical schoolyard conclusion. Orbital-esque soundscapes "Wooden" and "Scott" clear the floor without losing the melodic flow. Always dilettantes, never snobs, Ford and Shaw here even edit their club singles down to three-minute pop songs. It's economy, stupid. Friends, indeed!