Stephanie Zacharek, Salon‘s film critic, wrote that Juno‘s slangy dialogue was so hip it was instantly passé. You could apply the same to the halcyon days of indie-dance and bloghouse, when scummy hipsters found a lacier kind of thrash, threw on some day-glo, and fondled themselves silly. One minute Justice’s view of the dancefloor through heavy-metal glasses was killing crowds, the next it shifted into a kind of moronic worthlessness. One minute driving Boyz Noise to his hotel was highly bloggable, the next you were skipping his new track on Hype Machine. By minutes we mean months. But 2006 seems like 49 years ago musically and in that slightly exaggerated reality we ought to be about sick of Simian Mobile Disco.
In the summer of 2007 “Hustler” wasn’t just in the shadow of a skyline, it was burning up shitty warehouses in the San Joaquin Delta. (I know because I was there.) That locomotive shuffle is still recognizable anywhere and damn if it doesn’t thrill to this day. Simian Mobile Disco embodied that seedy 06/07 sensationalism better than anyone. Live, they crouched and hopped around comically junky-looking equipment and assayed thunking riots of scratch ‘n’ sniff samples, ratty squiggles and galloping gallons of beat. Attack Sustain Decay Release, their first full-length, didn’t have nearly as much filler as it might have and the singles were spectacular—”Hustler,” “I Believe,” “It’s The Beat” and even “Sleep Deprivation” all shone like bright new money. Simian Mobile Disco were fabulously, briefly cool. If I hadn’t got thrown out of their dressing room, I’d vouch for it more personally.
Temporary Pleasure doesn’t necessarily sound old, just…tired. It’s less ’80s, more tech-house (the kicks sound different anyway). Maybe it’s morbid for ancillary reasons. The recession has clamped party culture and in San Francisco, at least, the scene is approaching disarray; big local DJs are skipping town, crowds are sparser, the bureaucracy is more hostile. Shifts in musical favor account for some of the changes; psychedelic disco long since surmounted bangers as hipster-club currency. Temporary Pleasure, as titles go, couldn’t be much more retroactive or self-aware.
For instance there’s the track “Audacity Of Huge.” Yeasayer’s Chris Keating stars and blogrunners have hated it for months. In their defense, take lyrical stock: a grape Kool-Aid-filled swimming pool, a bag of Bill Murray, a Damien Hirst telephone. That shit is so 2007. I’m homeless half the time and even I was flush in 2007.
But it’s still kind of fun. That goes for most of the record, actually. The towering synth of opening track “Cream Dream” tingles with early-night suspense, two drinks in and the speedometer refurbished. “10000 Horses Can’t Be Wrong” at least approximates the rottenness of “Audacity” but comes up with peal after peal of windswept goodness. It’s like a light-saber duel between opposable Tauntauns. “Cruel Intentions” locates the Gossip’s Beth Ditto right where she matters most: the middle of the disco. Despite Joker’s recent dubstep go at it (speaking of fads that were D.O.A.) “Cruel Intentions” is basically an SMD highlight reel: real-girl vocals, a good short game (“play for keeps/ until the night is over“), chopped-up, stabbing beats.
Unfortunately they don’t solve the filler problem so well this time out. Jamie Lidell, who guests on “Off The Map,” was a poor choice for the revolving supply of vocalists; he just sounds weird out of context. “Turn Up The Dial,” with Young Fathers, is excruciating. Hot Chip’s Alexis Goddard, at least, acquits himself nicely on “Bad Blood,” mostly because Goddard’s always so equally ironic and earnest. I don’t know how he does that. At any rate Attack Sustain Decay Release was tough to follow mostly because it was so momentary. It enabled Ableton hacks everywhere and burned through a ton of midnight oil. Temporary Pleasure‘s moment, meanwhile, is already pretty much over.
Video: “The Audacity of Huge”