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LindstrÝm & Christabelle - Real Life is No Cool

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Artist: LindstrÝm & Christabelle

Album: Real Life is No Cool

Label: Smalltown Supersound

Review date: Jan. 21, 2010

The attraction of some synth-based music lies in the instrumentís ability to sound like pleasure itself. The appeal of this collaboration, between LindstrÝmóthe Norwegian dude who got a surprising amount of attention for the Schulze/GŲttsching sprawl of 2008ís Where You Go I Go Tooóand Christabelle, a Norwegian-Mauritian singer previously credited as Solale, would not be lost on yr typical Lady Gaga fan. The productions arenít exclusively synthwork: much of the albumís drama comes from strategic contributions from live instruments, and Christabelle spends most of her time wandering around the grounds instead of leading things. Thereís no arc of enjoyment on Real Life Is No Cool, just a stoned plateau.

The albumís target audience has probably spent more time reading about Giorgio Moroder on the Internet than actually listening to his music. So although a Summer-Moroder comparison holds water over the breadth of this electronic producer-sultry singer collaboration, the albumís actual pleasure centers are less coyó"Keep It Up" is a new-age Prince pastiche; "Baby Canít Stop" is an extended Off The Wall-style strut. LindstrÝm highlights the particular nature of the collaboration by isolating and manipulating Christabelleís improvised singing. "Looking for What" opens with opaque smears of backmasked vocals; their inclusion establishes how much LindstrÝm enjoys working with his source material, but is otherwise pointless. What comes after seems like pop only by comparison and length, an arpeggio throb that LindstrÝm ornaments with a cut-up of Christabelleís curious phrasing.

The album hits nerve centers more associated with Zapp than beardo disco, even as the rhythms donít stray from sturdy house underpinnings. LindstrÝmís strength isnít in miniatures, though, and even with most tracks hovering around five minutes, this collaboration isnít in any particular rush to get anywhere. Despite its sustained seratonin rush of pop recognition, Real Life Is No Cool feels as formless and clunky as the first seconds of "Looking for What" on a regular basis. Although the album is more enjoyable on the whole than AGF/Delayís insular Symptoms, the collaboration between Antye Greie-Fuchs and Vladislav Delay forms a better comparison than Summer-Moroder one. The collaboration here seems simultaneously oversaturated and alienated, like the two were working under intense intimacy yet at cross-purposes. That strange, overdetermined closeness was one of the themes of Symptoms but seems superfluous in RLINC.

The constantly renewed story of Making The Pop Album comes into play when thinking about this record, but luckily itís stranger in execution than in concept. Christabelleís vocal tics and meandering style also recall Mark E. Smithís frontmannery for Von SŁdenfed, although it sounds like Christabelle is laughing at her own incoherence rather than wielding it. Even better, thereís no track here that towers over the others, as "The Rhinohead" did; so while thereís no pointing out a surpassing moment, there are also no considerable lulls. Front-to-back, Real Life Is No Cool does exactly what it set out to do and no more: be a collection of dance pop tunes so solid it feels like theyíve always been there.

By Brandon Bussolini

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