Review : Lindstrom - Real Life Is No Cool (ft Christabelle)
Xlr8rAfter hearing Where You Go I Go Too, a three-song, 55-minute opus, one might not expect Lindstrøm to follow it up with a pop-disco collaboration like Real Life Is No Cool. As it turns out, the Norwegian superproducer has been intermittently working with Christabelle since 2001 and all the years of back-and-forth were clearly worth it, as Real Life is simply stellar. While traces of Lindstrøm's usual space disco dot the landscape, the album incorporates an '80s disco-funk vibe that perfectly suits Christabelle's loose and sultry vocal stylings. From the vocoders and horns of "Baby Can't Stop" to the woozy synths and boy-girl vocal foreplay of "Let It Happen" to the sexy strut of "Lovesick," Real Life is a carefree delight....full text
PrefixmagReal Life Is No Cool sounds like the partially charming, ridiculous broken English that a lot of European artists who decide to record in English employ. It's just a hair away from what's correct. In this case, we know that Lindstrøm & Christabelle decided to be incorrect, to be flippant with the words; it's as if one of the duo, throwing a spent cigarette from their mouth, looked up at the sky and declared it: "Real life is no cool."
Then apparently, they set about to correct that, because the one unifying theme that Real Life Is No Cool seems to possess is the overwhelming feeling of cool. Lindstrøm and Christabelle are certainly aware of the fact that "cool," of course, is dead. We killed it the same way that Nietzsche claims we killed God -- probably sometime after Fonzie jumped the shark. But maybe they approach that fact with the same recklessness that they do the record's title. The duo probably doesn't even set to resurrect "cool"; Lindstrøm and Christabelle just want to parade its corpse about, Weekend at Bernie's style.
The most obvious labels for the music on this album are "space disco" or "balearic," but neither of them really feel true to it spirit. The former implies nerdy meandering; the latter is just too terrestrial to ever pin down Lindstrøm's production. Lindstrøm seems to have reined in his zanier tendencies here, keeping the music tight around the center of each track but loose during the transitions, where he inserts his usually disjointed, wandering point of view into these compositions.
So, throw away the terms "space disco" and "balearic" for this album, even though there is something there, in the way that the tracks seem to reach toward infinity. But the more appropriate descriptor for this album, the simple "cool," is so nebulous and elusive that it's fairly wondrous how they managed to create it at all. It likely has a lot to do with the alternately enthusiastic, aloof, earnest, and esoteric vocal contributions from Christabelle, whose presence really floods every single track on Real Life Is No Cool from the Moroder synth propelled (but strikingly not Italo) "Looking for What" to the sensual funk of "High & Low." Christabelle is only flooding ice, though, because Lindstrøm's production is consistently, chillingly Scandinavian, even in the album's warmest track, "Music In My Mind," and the album's most obvious single, "Baby Can't Stop," which is strongly and supernaturally remniscent of "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough."...full text
PitchforkAs supportive as Hans-Peter Lindstrøm's fans have been of his random acts of creative fitfulness, one wouldn't blame them for feeling a bit tested by his most recent string of output. Between his brilliant but impractical 2008 long-player Where You Go I Go Too and his 42-minute refit of "Little Drummer Boy", two of the Norwegian producer's recent major releases have accounted for nearly 100 minutes of music across a scant four tracks. In a scene where an elongated 12-minute remix is par for the course, that's still hard going.
Real Life Is No Cool isn't just the achingly stylish and neatly accessible dance record to end all that, it also constitutes a fresh new take on the strand of retro-futurism that Lindstrøm helped create. The main difference is that whereas a lot of his output has been rooted in a genre-- disco, Balearic, new age-- Real Life Is No Cool often feels more like an attack on the very idea. It's almost as if Lindstrøm's response to years of genre exercise has been to atomise all of his influences into mist. What remains is a free-floating collection of sounds that not only still works as pastiche, but also somehow provides the basis for a remarkable dance record.
Of course, it might well be that the reason Lindstrøm finds it easier to play loose with his productions is because he's got a voice like Christabelle's to anchor them. A Norwegian with Mauritian roots, she slides effortlessly into pretty much any groove he provides, moving between slippery spoken word and breathy falsetto with equal ease. Evidently years in the making, Real Life Is No Cool functions partly as a chronicle of the pair's working relationship, spanning as far back as 2003, when she was still recording under the name Solale. While those early collaborations, including the slinky Italo of "Music (In My Mind)" and the fluttering space disco workout "Let's Practise", make repeat appearances here, they barely hold their own alongside most of the newer material....full text
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