Open-Road Rock Nostalgia Goes Awkwardly Disco


Apparently, what Mustang drivers have been missing is a slickly packaged collection of rock-era classics turned into murmuring disco tunes by a production team called Thriller Jill. Road to Nowhere is named for the 1985 song by Talking Heads, those well-known drag-strip fanatics; that song was, like all these selections and as the CD advertises, “originally recorded on vinyl.” When Volkswagen TV ads courted a similar if more Apple-esque demographic, they uncorked bratty Kings of Leon guitaristics. But Petrol—an Australian label just launching here but already operating internationally with slickly packaged collections of local- and genre-specific pop (sample titles: Greece and Ireland, Cocktail and Chill)—draws a more soothing bead on the modern/vintage continuum. The packaging evokes the casual sex of storybook mid-’60s Los Angeles, all those Mustangs and all those hot girls who lean on all those Mustangs’ hoods. It’s a portal to the sensuous world of flip-flops and cutoffs evoked by the 1968 Beach Boys tune “Do It Again,” definitely included here.

That’s where Roadtrip conceptually stays, but the sequence veers off to the East Coast and even London, revamping such tunes as Lou Reed’s “Vicious” and Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English,” the latter providing your usual Annette Funicello–Abercrombie & Fitch take on ’70s German radicalism. Neil Young’s sublime entreaties on “Cinnamon Girl,” meanwhile, dissolve into nice noise for trips to the nail salon. Thriller Jill might have considered studying the Pet Shop Boys discofications of “Always on My Mind” or “Where the Streets Have No Name”—there, the rock-to-dance equation balances in such a way that new beats do more than just oddify the past and motor down marketing freeways.