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Simian Mobile Disco “Attack Decay Sustain Release” Review

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“What makes Simian Mobile Disco a better pop band than Justice or the Klaxons is their commitment to clean danceable beats,” suggests Jess Harvell in his review for Pitchfork. And throughout Attack Decay Sustain Release that thought remains a constant, with James Shaw and James Ford combining efforts to create something with its roots seeded far deeper mid 1980s pop and late-stage techno than many of today’s electronic musicians. With far less layering and an open disregard for modern trend the duo scan through numerous sub genres on their way to defining a sound outside of the ever shifting electronic landscape.

Unlike that of Air’s recent Pocket Symphony, which created a mood shifting disparity between its songs that included structured vocals and those that did not, tracks such as “I Believe” find themselves as focal points which the rest of the album is seemingly aimed at. It and “Hotdog,” which includes vocal traces of The Go! Team’s Ninja, defy the typical role of a vocalist in modern electronic music by heavily weighting the songs with that the singer’s role. And it is throughout Attack Decay Sustain Release that the music finds itself revolving around the talents of a singer rather than the opposite, something much akin to the late-stage techno hinted at earlier.

While the group’s efforts have managed to define it as something other than an English Daft Punk there comes a risk in doing so as differentiating simply isn’t enough within itself to become substantial. With tracks on recent albums † and Sound of Silver successfully loading various songs with heavy track lengths Simian Mobile Disco make a conscious effort to do the exact opposite. Granted, the majority of the album’s tracks were released long before Attack Decay Sustain Release, but the theory behind putting an album together is that is should be, well, to make a thorough album. And as an album it collectively weighs in at a little over a half hour, often missing out on the driving progressive sounds that so frequently sustain sounds of the group’s contemporaries. The group’s point is just that however. Again as Harvell mentioned, Simian Mobile Disco is the pop band equivalent to what is flourishing in today’s electronic music scene, and asking anything more simply wouldn’t be innocuous.