Hailing from the Milano/Roma underground art scene, LA electro duo Blow-Up have certainly made a name for themselves with recent remixes for such prolific artists as The Flaming Lips, Madonna, and Blondie. However, their debut album, Exploding Plastic Pleasure, is certain to gain them recognition as artists in their own right. Falling firmly in the field of retro new wave electro and combining sparse analog synths reminiscent of Depeche Mode's 1981 debut with the same simple and repetitive yet undeniably catchy riffs and melodies that made artists like Daft Punk famous, Exploding Plastic Pleasure is a beautiful marriage of retro sonic kitsch and pop sensibilities.
"You Can't Make Me Do That", co-written by Dee Dee Ramone, sets the tone for the rest of the album with excellent catchy melodies, processed vocals, and a warm-yet-synthetic retro analog synth sound. The following tracks continue the run of infectious retro dance pop while inexplicably switching between English, French, Spanish, and Italian just for the hell of it (show-offs!). The album's most notable track is likely "Uncontrollable Love", a more organic track with bulkier production, perhaps one of the best sing-a-long choruses on the album, and vocals from none other than Deborah Harry. My favorite track on the album, however, is "On The Prowl", a faster, heavier, slightly more industrial-oriented track featuring great processed guitars and the erotic spoken word stylings of the incomparable Lydia Lunch (who apparently also handled some of the album photography). Another interesting change of pace is the excellent disco new waver "Fly With Me" that makes great use of the familiar camera shutter sound that graced a number of songs back in the 80s. Unfortunately, the album does go out on a low note with the unexceptional "You Don't Love..." and a bizarre and utterly disappointing cover of The Human League's "Don't You Want Me". Luckily, things are saved at the last minute by a slightly more danceable and equally catchy remix of "Uncontrollable Love".
While the album does have a clunker or two (most notably the previously mentioned cover of "Don't You Want Me") and isn't exactly the most original album I've heard, it's still a solid album that is destined to be loved by fans of both modern electro and 80s new wave and synthpop. Hidden beneath the guise of simplicity, the album's melodies will likely burrow into your head and never leave (Don't worry...it's not as painful as it sounds). Yes, you'll likely be singing along after the first listen and leaving this one on repeat play for quite some time. In fact, it peculiarly seems to get even better with each listen (perhaps the CD is cursed?). Whether you're physically listening to the CD or just have it running through your head afterwards, it's certainly one of the best electro releases I've heard recently. I'd highly recommended checking it out, even for retro new wave and pop fans that aren't particularly fond of modern electro. Three thumbs up...errr...wait...one...two...
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