CD Review: Datarock — Red; Playing Rock and Roll Hotel in DC, September 19

DatarockRed Datarock

By Micah McLain

The Norwegian
duo in the flashy red tracksuits have returned. Red, the followup to
2005's Datarock Datarock, finds the band paying homage to the '80s and questioning our current society's obsession with technology. While none of
the tracks on Red approach the sheer funk and danceability of the
massively ad-friendly "FaFaFa" or the humor of "Computer Camp Love," the album
is much more cohesive overall with several songs that are memorable for their
unique style and range of sounds. Album opener "The Blog" is an electro-industrial
indictment of the massive affect that the creation of the internet has had on
our culture, weaving sound bites about the world wide web into what is made to
sound like a live Datarock performance.

Lead single "Give It Up" has the
jagged guitars and retro-futuristic synths that the band loves to employ,
although the quickly building intro invites high expectations that the remainder
of the song can't quite live up to. Lyrics such as "We'll hook you up with an
enema" attempt to incorporate humor but seem forced, yet do little to detract
from the track's energy. The best track on the album is one of the most unique
lyrical tracks in recent memory. Every single line and word of "True Stories" is
constructed from the song titles of obvious Datarock influence Talking Heads.
Not surprisingly, lyrics like "Psycho Killer, Radiohead/Television Man, I’m
Not In Love/Puzzling Evidence, Seen and Not Seen/This Must Be The Place/I’m Not In Love" do not make a whole lot of sense yet don't seem totally out of
place next to Datarock's usually disjointed and cryptic writing. The rainbowing
synths and blurting guitar chords combined with the joyous shouts of Fredrik
Saroea and Ketil Mosnes give the track an exuberant and care-free

Most of the songs on Red follow in a similar vein and
are subsequently less memorable even though they are catchy in their own right (outside of unnecessary instrumental "In The Red"). "Molly," an ode to John
Hughes' (RIP) former muse Molly Ringwald, once again finds the group
professing their love for the '80s – something that carries through to the
band's retro dress code and choice of instruments. Although Red isn't
quite the giant leap forward that many were expecting after such an extended
break between albums it will definitely satisfy fans of the group's first album
that are looking for some new retro-dance grooves.

Datarock play Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, DC on September 19. Tickets available at Ticket Alternative.

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