Fischerspooner have such a manufactured image that you easily miss how much more powerful their music is when they are avoiding pretensions. With their third album, Entertainment, they succeed best whenever they are warming up their familiar electro sound with pop elements rather than aping worldly sophistication.
You only have to listen to the Eric Adamo remix of Fischerspooner’s hit “Emerge,” which he mixes with Nirvana, to know what a little bit of nostalgia can do for electronic music. This is a constant for Entertainment, down to the retro drum effect that grounds this album and the previous ones, and which is enjoyable under the hand of masterful production, like seeing Technicolor in high definition. This meshes well with their choices of samples, such as the cut-from-PBS space program To the Moon in the track “Money Can’t Dance,” in which the astronaut actor talks about being “absolutely mesmerized.” Interspersed throughout, and notably on “We Are Electric,” rock elements such as the electric guitar are used like icing atop the beats. In addition to cuts of guitar riffs, there are horns and, of course, vocal hooks that seem almost sleazy in their aggression.
It is the pretentions that don’t work as well. “Danse En France” starts with a young woman talking about a sexual encounter with a stranger on the beach, who is really intrigued by her being from France. This song is supposed to be sultry in all of its European sexiness but actually limps a bit, not to mention how hollow it seems. “Amuse Bousche” is an atmospheric wash that blends the airy vocals resplendent in lounge music (think Air or Massive Attack) but just isn’t melancholy enough to really sit down in. And Fischerspooner’s attempt at political leanings in “Infidels of the World Unite” is about as informed as those Middle Eastern scarves people are wearing as fashion statements.
More catchy songs include “The Best Revenge,” an attempt at their next “Emerge.” This song makes notable use of a techno pulse, and it delivers a catchy pop chorus. Breakdowns that would normally satisfy a 10-minute house track seem indulgent within its four-minute frame. That is OK, though, because ultimately, the members of Fischerspooner endear us to them by flaunting their whiteness. This album will play great at the pool hall, the shopping mall, or in your sports car. Just don’t expect to hear it on NPR.