A friend and I have, for a while now, contemplated the merits of dropping the Postal Service‘s
“Clark Gable” during a deejay set. Pros: It’s got an insanely high
sing-along rating. It’s upbeat and instantly recognizable. And it would
probably mix well with that glistening intro section. Cons: You can’t
quite dance to clunk-clunk-clunk of it without feeling awkward. The
beat is a little too rigid. And it’s the Postal Service.
to say, producer Jimmy Tamborello doesn’t make records for the clubs.
His compositions, as perhaps the definitive blip-and-bloop artist, use
the electronic forum as a template for experimentation, typically at
the sacrifice of danceability. Tamborello‘s
work, as Dntel, Figurine and the Postal Service, has always been more
like music for emo kids to play after they’re done having a good cry.
That was until Tamborello released Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake under
the solo moniker James Figurine. The product of Tamborello’s travels
through Germany and hearing (and for the first time really listening
to) the club-oriented music of Kompakt and Parfum, the album explores
the new sonic objective of getting the booties shaking.
Tamborello’s distinctive, pop-friendly production style can’t help but
shine through. On opener “55566688833,” the track most similar to his
moody, semi-alienated work with Figurine, Tamborello moans in his
trademark monotone a tale about, of all things, text messaging. (The
digits spell out l-o-v-e. Ugh.) Elsewhere, he stumbles on “Apologies,”
enlists the help of Erlend Øye to sing on the deftly structured but somewhat sleepy “All The Way to China” and wastes Jenny Lewis‘s vocal contribution on the underwhelming “You Again.”
succeeds when he’s on point in structuring his vision of German house
without too much intrusion of his past styles. “Ruining the Sundays”
(screw minimalism) and “White Ducks” (you’d never guess it’s a
Tamborello track) are his primary accomplishments in this realm, each
of which would play well alongside the work of Superpitcher or Schaeben
& Voss. But perhaps the best example is “Leftovers,” a track that
features Tamborello fusing his lackluster vocals with a hot dance beat
that builds and bends in all the right ways.
we’re left with is, as Tamborello seems to point out with his album title,
ten songs that primarily lost their way or diverted from their original
intention. But overall, the bunch is some of the artist’s best work to
date. If you can deal with Jimmy Jam’s emo-rific mumbling, you’ll
probably find a groove somewhere that’s ready to be busted.