They've quit monkeying around to flaunt blissful, hypnotic depths
Simian Mobile Disco circa 2012 are the cooler older brother of Simian Mobile Disco circa 2007. Young SMD were the arm-waving, attention-grabbing, shouty teenager, upping their ‘friends on Facebook’ count with their crossover appeal on debut album ‘Attack Decay Sustain Release’. They continued to plough the hipster-glitch into second album ‘Temporary Pleasure’, with a string of indie-vocalists (Beth Ditto, Gruff Rhys, Alexis Hot Chip), guaranteeing them middle-ground radio airplay and festival crowds.
Grown-up SMD, however, are an altogether different prospect. Rather than hammering the vibe that elevated them into the public’s consciousness, James Ford and Jas Shaw have matured. ‘Unpatterns’ is a tipping point and an opportunity to write their names larger in the history books than they could have managed with their disco-lite of old. They’ve taken the stabilisers off and decided against loading every barrel with a well-known vocalist. What you have instead is deep and soulful house music, dipping into the rustic Detroit techno sound of ‘Your Love Ain’t Fair’ and the repetitious synth-wave of ‘Put Your Hands Together’. The latter mines such a deep, rhythmic vein, it rapidly induces a hypnotic state.
‘Cerulean’ and ‘Seraphim’ are nestled next to each other, both on the tracklisting and stylistically, and together they characterise the advances the duo have made. The drumbeats are rich and buoyant, while the oscillating synths are playfully retro. The vocal line on ‘Seraphim’, with its painful refrain, “why can’t you be where I want you to be”, is the stuff life-changing nights out are made of. It’s blissful, soulful proof that although SMD might have stopped chasing the hit parade, they haven’t stopped making hits.