Fantastic Playroom

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New Young Pony Club


New Young Pony Club

It’s the first time these words have ever been used together in the history of album reviewing, but it does have to be said and I think now is the time… thank God for Fischerspooner. A pair of tarted

up New York art slags with more sequinned zebra print leotards than tunes or sense, they might have been, but without them we could never have got to where we are now: to the rebirth of Femifunk Electrosex. To the horny Häagen Daz’ed geofuture of New Young Pony Club.

Think about it: where was glamour in electronica until the ’Spooner came along waving their peacock-feather codpieces in our faces in 2002? In the ’90s it was cooing anonymously in the background of trance tunes, never allowed centre stage in case it detracted from the po-faced geek-boy technicality of the genre. And when it did take the spotlight in the early-’00s (courtesy of Client, Ladytron or Miss Kittin) it was always strapped down, genderless and robotic; all cold Teutonic deadpans and sexual suggestions that were about as sexy as a slap in the face with Gary Numan’s old pants. It was as if the electro bods were terrified that their music would be tainted as pop (spit!) or disco (chunder!) at the merest swish of femininity and only felt safe with their girls stripped of all passion and identity, portrayed purely as she-droids – their sexuality defined only by their mechanical subservience.

Then electroclash opened the electro-fabulous floodgates, and the girls took control. Peaches grabbed the baton, flaunting her glam-sex brutality with fantastic (and often pubic) abandon. Le Tigre became the femdisco Beastie Boys. Goldfrapp surrounded herself with unicorns and dolphins and got sexy despite being 286 years old. And now we’ve entered a flamboyant new world of oestrogen-heady danceadelica: Lovefoxxx, Robots In Disguise, Tigerpicks, The Ting Tings and, shimmying sparkly cheeked across some celestial dancefloor in high-heels and party dresses, Tahita Bulmer, the ice cream queen of the new glamtronic generation.

And ‘Fantastic Playroom’ – NYPC’s effortlessly effervescent 10-track debut – is the pinnacle of all this glittery gregariousness. It’s got the icy-cool foundations of Ladytron, the pose and punch of Peaches, the samba sexiness of CSS and the electrogiiiiirl ’80s pop sheen of Robots In Disguise. Unashamedly disco, flagrantly advert-friendly and without a single sneery tosser rewiring a sequencer within 20 miles of it, it’s this year’s surefire indie synth crossover record – a sultry, seductive Scissor Sisters. The kind of record your granny will find herself absent-mindedly rubbing herself against the Stannah stairlift along to.

It begins as it means to smooch on: ‘Get Lucky’ is all glossy stabs of Rapture funk, Gap-happy guitars, heavy breathing and cowbells, over which Tahita promises to “Slide to lay over your face” and “give you all my love”. Add in such metrosexualisms as “Let your girlfriend do what your boyfriend can’t” and synths that sound like they come with skinny white belts and angular haircuts attached, and you basically have a song that could make a good living as a premium-rate sexline based in Hoxton. Indeed, sexual-romantic imagery and metaphor is a mainstay here: the whole Cornetto-cunnilingus kerfuffle of ‘Ice Cream’ (“Drink me like a liquor/Come on and dip your dipper” – er, we only asked for a 99 with a Flake, thanks) you already know about, but then there’s the jubilant jungle jive of ‘Jerk Me’, with its invitations to “Suck me in and spit me out… this island’s been dull too long/Mark your sordid X on me”, or the doleful dancefloor comedown of ‘Tight Fit’, wherein Tahita demands we “Fill this loving cup”. Or she might be singing “Fill this love ink up”, which on reflection might be even ruder.

In fact, the record is at its drabbest when its libido wilts. ‘Talking, Talking’ is a minimalist plod about going out with a chronic depressive and is, fittingly, about as much fun as a night on the gin with Arab Strap. ‘The Get Go’ bumps its funky stuff against some snazzy A-Ha keyboards with suitable aplomb, but fizzles along where it should fully ignite, and ‘FAN’ is such a throwback to those dreary old days of android fembots speaking choruses through samplers that you start scouring the sleeve-notes for some svengali involvement by The Hacker.

Thankfully though, ‘Fantastic Playroom’ packs enough innovation in its boosters to reach new rave escape velocity. For look! There they go, strapping on giant feather head-dresses and hip bongos and joining the CSS conga line though the Rio carnival on ‘Hiding On The Staircase’! Casually flicking Vs at boring bands from a hovering mothership made of glaciers on the bliptronic brilliance of ‘Grey’! And being more punk rock and Klaxony than a purdy liddle electro band should ever dare to be on ‘The Bomb’! There’s sparkle, fizzle and sex dripping from every beckoning finger of ‘Fantastic Playroom’ and all thanks to Mssrs Fischer and Spooner. Just don’t expect any Godlike Genius Awards, fellas…

Mark Beaumont