Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - 'Trouble'
A collection of lovelorn bangers
Higginbottom’s debut album as TEED both fits into the lineage of British dance music and stands a little apart. Steeped in ’80s synth-pop, jacking house, vintage acid sounds and contemporary electro, ‘Trouble’ is identifiably club music, but speaks in a language that is personal and warm, taking big-room sounds and distilling them down to something as close and intimate as a tearful late-night voicemail or a whispered conversation on a shared pillow.
TEED’s very earliest material saw the light of day on Hot Chip/2 Bears man Joe Goddard’s Greco Roman imprint, and the Chip themselves have obviously been something of an influence – chiefly, as proof that being a well-educated, middle-class milksop does not necessarily prevent one from bringing the rave. But there are more direct comparisons, too: on tracks like ‘Promises’ and ‘You Need Me On My Own’, Higginbottom’s vocal carries an echo of Alexis Taylor’s anxiously romantic loverman croon, while ‘Panpipes’, with its wonky carnival house percussion and billowing synthesisers, would slot in quite neatly on Hot Chip’s latest long-player. All this isn’t to say TEED are incapable of turning out a proper dance anthem now and again.
Most prominently, there is the fantastic ‘Your Love’, an eccied-up bit of 3am euphoria dotted with crystal-sharp synths, gurgling acid basslines and a proper diva giving it all that, while ‘Household Goods’, a romantic entreaty to a former girlfriend, drops a fat Example-style synth over the chorus with unexpected but thrilling effect. Higginbottom has spoken of the difficulties of writing a dance album with “shelf life”; more than other genres, dance music is a difficult fit for the album format. ‘Trouble’ gets around this by adopting a mood of lovelorn melancholy. “Tell me how you feel/Because I need to know-oh”, he croons on ‘Garden’, a gorgeous, understated duet with Luisa of Lulu And The Lampshades. “Stressed out now/Just take my hand and tell me it’s all good”, goes the wispy, garage-tinged ‘Closer’.
This is a record about low times – of heartbreak and of love unrequited. But Orlando Higginbottom knows that sadness is best worked out on the dancefloor. TEED is a strange beast, for sure – but the good news is that ‘Trouble’ is a quite remarkable specimen.
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