3.5 out of 5 stars
In today’s music world, any preconceived notions of what makes a hit song have been completely left behind by the rabid nature of the iTunes, blog-hype machine that largely controls popular music. No longer is it necessary for an artist to be able to sing, play an instrument or even go on tour. The technological veil of modern music production has replaced the emphasis on true talent and musical prowess.
That being said, what propels songs to astronomical heights now depends on the inherent catchiness of a band’s single. With no easily located avenue for writing a sure-fire hit, it’s the general public’s guilty pleasures that have dictated a song’s marketability.
Enter Discovery, a veritable indie super group consisting of Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend’s keyboard player) and Wes Miles (lead singer of Ra Ra Riot).
Batmanglij’s retro production — guilty pleasures abound — that combines elements of 80’s pop, funk, dub and Auto-Tune-laced R&B, coupled with Miles’s pipes, humor and willingness makes their debut album something akin to the musical version of a buddy flick.
The album starts off at a fevered pitch, opening with what could be two of the catchiest songs of the summer, “Orange Shirt” and “Osaka Loop Line.” The two tracks are marked by handclaps, hi-hats and soft synths that come to be the band’s calling cards.
The playful, futuristic nature of Discovery is obvious in the text-obsessed lyrics of the first track. Miles bashes his crush, stating “Every text that I get from you is so deliberate,” and also pointing out a pet peeve: “You’re never looking when you type T9.”
Sadly, everything goes slightly downhill after such a grand, danceable start. Though the album never returns to the swagger of the first few tracks, its mix of popular R&B and indie credibility lends it an air of hilarity and makes things all OK.
The eventual downfall of this ambitious release is its formulaic nature. It seems hastily put together, which makes sense in light of the fact that this is merely a side project for two extremely active musicians. On paper, Miles and Batmanglij should be the poster children for a hybridization of the blogosphere and American Top 40, but they can’t quite make it. Rushed as it may be, LP certainly has the makings for a perfectly fine summer soundtrack.