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Electric President - Electric President

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Artist: Electric President

Album: Electric President

Label: Morr Music

Review date: Jan. 17, 2006

Electric President glosses something like a Postal Service for the Anticon set, a pretty percolating electro-pop record that embraces sweetness and strangeness in equal measure. Ben Cooper's syrupy voice splits the difference between the syrupy voices of Ben Gibbard and Dose One, and his lyrics, though not as far to either pole (overly romantic or overly abstract, respectively), have a similar heartsick future-shock thing going on. But that's hardly what's remarkable about the Florida duo's self-titled debut; rather, it's the deceptive complexity of the record. Its meticulous construction of songs are at once hummable and impossible to duplicate, seemingly organic machines with innumerable interlocking parts.

Cooper and collaborator Alex Kane make less from more with a deftness that lands them easily on German pulse-pop imprint Morr Music, but they temper the Teutonic slickness of labelmates like Lali Puna and Christian Kleine with something messier. The tinny, excitable laptop beats and live drums alike give way to little currents of clicking, clinking, shuffling, twitching, ch-chinging percussion; buoyant guitar strums and shining synth chimes share their airspace with calm layers of drone and ghostly choral smears; not even Cooper's even-keeled simper is immune from a spot of vocal strain here or a tape bleedthrough there.

It doesn't work all the time – the frenzy of opener "Good Morning, Hypocrite" belongs somewhere on that Fog/Why? Hymie's Basement album, and "Grand Machine No. 12" is actually tedious because it's not crowded enough – but in the majority of cases, the multitude and the mess feel both essential and effortless.

If Cooper and Kane's control is masterful, though, the grander stroke is the way they draw attention to their own apparent afterthoughts, their realization that their machines are more impressive when the cogs come loose for a moment. It's the precise little flaws that go a long way toward innovation – seven minutes of slowly building tension released in five seconds, say, or Cooper muttering "goddammit" in place of a drum fill – and ground Electric President's ditties between monument and minutiae, surprisingly free of both the perils of pop and the pitfalls of experimentation.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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