If electro is now the domain of art-pop, we should point the finger at Alison Goldfrapp for making it available to the general public again. With Black Cherry, Goldfrapp popularised the inherent sexiness of plastic pop, essentially by assaulting aural senses with juicy, hooky basslines and weird synthy bleeps and boops.
But New Yorkers Fischer and Spooner are less appealing in thigh-high boots and top-hats. Their music instead harks back more to the New-Order side of the aisle, though with more purist intentions when it comes to synthesis and techno-savvy references. They've also been at it a little longer that Goldfrapp.
This offering, heavily influenced by the European electro-movement (half the album was produced there) strays too far into the friendly terrain, attempting to hook casual pop listeners, no doubt. On "Never Win" especially, any sensible reference falls flat, as the track neither satisfies the sophisticated meta-listener, nor the Gwen Stefani-obsessed hack fan.
There are some quality moments. "Just Let Go" hints at the danceable element that their genre requires; "We Need a War" references Kraftwerk, the grandfathers of electro pop; "Wednesday" seems to have Ivan Doroschuck's Men Without Hats project in its cheek; and "Ritz 107" may have borrowed an idea or two from Vince Clark's Yazoo experiments.
And so it is that, in the electro-vacuum that existed in the mid-nineties, Fischerpooner's Odyssey may have found a place in the popular psyche of the alternative-minded. But now that the true leaders of electronic pop - Depeche Mode - are seemingly back to their best, Odyssey stands in embarassed contrast to what is truly possible.
In short - it's still 'alternative' by definition, but it's too much pop, and not enough electro.
- Anton Marshall
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