Chromeo: Fancy Footwork

In a world where live instrumentation continuously fights for its old soul, Chromeo could be perceived as the antithesis to the struggle. Then again, on their synth-heavy follow-up Fancy Footwork (Vice), Chromeo wears their millennium shoes to tap on an '80s dancefloor…in a '70s club. Three years ago, the Canadian duo—P-Thugg and Dave 1—strutted their stuff with their debut She’s In Control. A blend of electro-pop and soul-driven basslines, Control brought forth hits like “Needy Girl” and “You’re So Gangsta” radiating a “back to the future” edge. Fans readily gravitated towards the Montreal b-boys—younger kids for the new experience, older kids for the memories. This time around, Chromeo is far more experimental. Starting with the Intro and its interpolated Wizard of Oz “oh wee oh” (as “Chro-meo”), it’s evident that the work is dramatically different from the first release. If the group channeled Ladytron and Robert Palmer the first time around, then let’s just say that Prince and Hall & Oates were the artists of choice for Fancy Footwork. However, while some artists get tangled in the web of their record collections, Chromeo merely tastes without going back for seconds. The title track blares sirens like the mean streets of an ‘80s movie, combined with thunderclaps, tambourines, and synthesizers, as female vocals hum “two step, two step.” The hint of early Hip-Hop and spurts of freestyle boasts the duo’s diversity. Add that with P-Thugg’s signature affair with the talkbox, and the mission’s complete. Songs like “Outta Sight” and “Call Me Up” present very Princely beats along with an air of The Time. Other shoulder shifters include “100%,” “Opening Up,” and “My Girl Is Calling Me (A Liar),” where P-Thugg actually carries on a conversation with Dave 1 using the talkbox—skills! The only low point on Footwork is the misplaced “Momma’s Boy.” While it could easily fit into any Molly Ringwald film, the lack of excitement and strange lyrics make it a little too questionable for an otherwise solid work. Like many bands blasting through genre-plastered walls, Chromeo’s task is maintaining an audience who may not recall the sounds they are paying homage to. Still, as evolution is obvious, Fancy Footwork may just continue the buzz already circulating around this talented pair.