26 October 2010

Destronics: "Digital Naives"

I discovered Destronics when someone visiting from Europe played them on YouTube for me; I was mesmerized … how the hell did this get by me? Hailing for Lyon, France, Destronics’ debut album, “Digital Naives” (11 September 2010 in France, 15 September 2010 in the USA as digital download) is a hodgepodge of different electronic trends (from synthpop to house, from electronica to synthrock) that should have your ears all perky. Of course, when you link the words France and electronic, you will think Air and/or Daft Punk. And though they do not recreate the sound/style of these two veterans, it is obvious that they have learnt a few lessons from them. Like Air, Destronics have a seventies feel to their synth sounds and have a keen ear for that sort of ambience that can create a wall of sound but never swells into an overwhelming, visceral experience. Like Daft Punk, Destronics can think outside of the box, come up with fresh beats and sonic combinations, all the while eluding comfortably fitting into any one pigeonhole. Couple that with apparently having their fingers on the pulse of indie rock and an intriguing pop sensibility that avoids the 80s’ clichés of most current electronic bands, Destronics offer up a memorable experience with “Digital Naives.”

“Préface,” the forty-second introduction, teases you with a bit of electronics and effected guitar strumming, reverberating right into “Symptom (from the Crisis),” the second track, also a short (under two minutes) track. Destronics continues to be playful with their build-up, as you experience each layer of music, one-by-one, meld together into one solid track. It is the kind of track that gives you a solid insight into how they construct their musical arrangements. But the playful introductions are over with the third track, “Elise Island.” It creeps in with a simple guitar arrangement, then some keys, and then the beat drops, the wall of sound starts to develop, and you are definitely sucked into the seventies-esque sounds and distorted vocal arrangements. Playing with their out-of-the-box pop sensibility, the song combines an array of different elements: from electronic claps of house music with a steady indie beat to a driving disco-esque rhythm guitar, and simple, but big keys.

Tracks like “Together” (showcasing some acoustic guitar playing and reminds me of some of Madonna’s songs like “Don’t Tell Me” and “Hollywood”) and “The Lake” really display Destronics’ consciousness of current indie music. Though not constructed with the reckless abandonment that so many indie acts feign, these are highly crafted tracks that are experiments in juxtaposing elements of indie rock and house. “Free Hands” (vocal arrangements employing a vocoder) is a throw back to French electronic music of the 90s that became popular in the USA. However, unlike the purely dance driven music of that era, “Free Hands” employ the vocals for melodic effects, not to amplify the “dance ambience” of the track. The closing track, “Digital Naives,” is another track that just infuses many different elements: a distorted guitar (much like post-punk rockers used behind ambient keyboard arrangements), the ostianto of synthpop, the dance beat of house, and the playfulness of solid pop.

Over the past two years, I have been falling in love with French music, and Destronics are just pushing me to fall further in love. “Digital Naives” is the perfect name for the album; it is “naïve,” because it is unaffected, straightforward, and lacks pretensions. And as the year is starting to draw to a close, I have to admit that this was this year’s biggest surprise.

Track Listing
1. Préface
2. Sympton (from the Crisis)
3. Elise Island
4. Free Hands
5. Together
6. Feel In Color
7. Flirting Machine Part I
8. Flirting Machine Part 2
9. The Lake
10. Digital Naives

Keep up with Destronics at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

First, here is an audio clip of “Free Hands” from their YouTube Channel: destroncis. Second, here is a previous single/video (track not on the album) entitled “This Night a Soldier” from the imetrages YouTube Channel.

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