Label: XL Recordings
Due Out: July 7th
So everybody's pretty much been waiting all summer for this one. Good thing the guys decided to release it the first week of July. If you're not in the know, Discovery is Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles. Though the partnership isn't really a shocker- both bands gained rave reviews for their 2008 indie pop debuts- this collection is unique nonetheless. Rather than try to recreate the respective sounds of their bands, Batmanglij and Miles ditched the 'indie' part of their pre-assigned genre, and instead, embraced their inner DJs. LP is simple. It's synths, interspersed with club beats and even some of samples of their own bands' songs. If you enjoy the bands separately, and/or have an affinity for electronic pop, dig in.
The first notes of "Orange Shirt" hit with an astounding suddenness. Strong, powerful and unabashedly full of life, the lyrics matter little on this track, but are obviously still there. However, its not the words that grab your attention, but rather the hard-hitting bass and cymbals that pierce through the track. Next, you step into the space-y and mechanical "Osaka Loop Line". What carries this one is the looping background beat and the fun and playful synths that instantly bring back images of the Sega Genesis gaming system. After a quick crescendo towards the end, the following track will probably sound familiar. There was never a dance mix made for Ra Ra Riot's "Can You Tell" when the album came out, and this is probably why. Here, one of The Rhumb Line favorites is set to a heavy bass and electronic beat, and after altering the words slightly, you've got a brand new, though still recognizable track, "Can You Discover?"
Not to let you down after that dose of familiarity, the boys bring in Dirty Projectors' Angel Deradoorian to spice up "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend". Even after running her voice through a couple filters, it's still just as recognizable and just as pleasant to listen to. It also lends to, and is probably the reason why, the track being considered to be one of this summer's best by various outlets. Next, "So Insane" is a fairly apt description for the following song. Sounding a bit like Passion Pit, the song engages in another mechanical dance that slows down and hops back up over and over, changing at an increasingly quick rate, to the point you're almost feeling some motion sickness. Just as you're about to lose it though, "Swing Tree" jumps in with an interesting, upbeat and consistent jam that mixes high-pitched synths and a bouncy atmosphere. It's these moments that make the album stand out (to me at least) and take it from fun side project, to entertaining (yet still fun) musical venture.
"In case you forgot, Vampire Weekend is also involved with this album, so it would make sense we see a guest appearance from lead singer Ezra Koenig. "Carby" runs his voice through so many filters that it's almost unrecognizable, but that's by design I'm sure. Discovery is Batmanglij's baby, and it's evident here with the synths and very heavy beat overpowering the vocals of his bandmate. When I first read the tracklisting, I was half-expecting the next track to be an *NSync cover. Alas, it is no such thing, much to the chagrin of boy band fans everywhere. More fluttering synths and skipping keyboard charge this one up as one of the more high-energy tracks on the record. "It's Not My Fault (It's My Fault)" lives up to its bipolar name, giving us an equally bipolar song that definitely sounds as if it's winding down. Finally, we reach "Slang Tang," arguably the goofiest song on the album, and though a decent song, also a bit puzzling in terms of energy. It's almost as if it's run out of gas, and thus there's very little energy left to properly close out the album.
There's a lot of good here, but is it enough to give it the reverence we've given some other albums this year? In a word, no. I don't think Discovery was created with the intention of being a masterpiece, nor did it expect a place on any end-of-year lists. I think it was approached as something potentially fun that fans of both bands would listen to, and if I'm correct, then one would consider LP a success. There are tons of highs, but it's not without lows, and there's a lot of melting together and similarities that can lead to distractions. If you enjoy it for what it is, you're sure to get something out of it. Don't look for a masterpiece, rather just expect entertainment and fun. Otherwise, you may end up a bit disappointed. Similarities include the aforementioned Passion Pit, Kanye West's 808s only and Little Boots.
Best Track: "Swing Tree" (not available at the moment, but you can stream the entire album at their website)