Early-‘00s dance-punkers like the Rapture get credit for opening up all the indie kids to dance music, but for my money, it was Chromeo, via their 2007 album, Fancy Footwork, that did more to loosening swarms of tight-jeaned hips. Chromeo were the soundtrack for every cool party from 2007 to 2008, and they finally made it all right to love Hall and Oates again. But that kind of breakthrough comes with a price: Their sound was tired less than a year after it exploded.
Which is to say Business Casual, the duo’s second album, is a fun little record full of ‘80s-referencing R&B cheese, with song titles like “Don’t Turn the Lights On,” “Hot Mess,” and “When the Night Falls.” Which is to say it’s basically Fancy Footwork II: Back in the Habit. Which, when you get down to it, is all anyone really wanted out of Chromeo at this point anyway: some sing-along choruses, some lyrics about love making, and enough ‘80s nostalgia to make us all nostalgic for 2007 again.
A lot of the irony tied up in Chromeo is that Dave-1 and P-Thugg look like office nerds but they sing songs that have them getting more tail (and fighting with said tail) than R. Kelly and The-Dream combined. That trend continues here. Dave-1 sings about talking to a girl who doesn’t listen to what he’s trying to say (“You Make It Rough”), ensures a woman the right type of guy will come around eventually (“The Right Type”), considers the lighting during a boning session (“Don’t Turn the Lights On”) and begs a lady to give him another shot (“Don’t Walk Away”). And as always, Dave-1 is as clever as can be, dropping lines like “Two wrongs don’t make a fight” as if he’s an advice columnist, delivering trenchant life observations from behind a keytar. “When the Night Falls” is the album’s far away highlight, with Dave dueting with a girl he booty-called on a tour stop, ultimately convincing her to get back with him at nightfall over buoyant synths and a funk-disco backbeat.
But here’s the thing: You hear 30 seconds of a Chromeo song, you’ve heard them all. There are no revelations here, no new nuances wrung from the ‘80s R&B songbook, nothing that will make naysayers think this band is built on anything other than capital Irony. At the same time, you’d be hard-pressed to find a band having as much fun as Chromeo have here. Business Casual will probably slay people at parties, on Urban Outfitters sales floors and as part of the pre-concert entertainment over the P.A. But it’ll probably have the same seven-month shelf life as Fancy Footwork did.