Ten years ago, Chromeo first appeared and was lovingly taken in by many as a mere guilty pleasure – an 80s pastiche band with an undeniably catchy worldwide hit, “Needy Girl”. In 2007, Chromeo released Fancy Footwork and was widely championed by new tastemaker music blogs and a rising electronic music scene. Business Casual came in 2010, firmly establishing Dave 1 and P-Thugg as a marquee band with massive touring, TV appearances and prime festival slots. These Montreal boys did, in fact, mean business.
In late 2013, Chromeo started hinting at fourth studio album, White Women, with their cinematic trailer for “Over Your Shoulder”, a soulful paean to feminine insecurities – funny, heartfelt and beautiful all at once. Then came the six minute space funk jam, “Sexy Socialite”: a return to early 2000s NYC punk funk featuring LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney on drums, rife with more snarky one-liners (“you’re a sexy socialite I wish you were a socialist instead of worrying about your name on the list”). Chromeo performed it on Fallon and surprised the world with a resurrected Death From Above 1979 as their backing band.
In early 2014, Chromeo went into high gear, launching the poppy “Come Alive” featuring Toro y Moi, followed by their current hit single, “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”, the duo’s biggest song to date and their first to get radio play at both Pop and Alternative. “Jealous” takes all the classic Chromeo tropes – funky synths, irresistibly groovy beats and funny lyrics about a castrated, powerless male – and turbo charges them. Huffington Post went on to crown “Jealous” the summer song of 2014 and Billboard called Chromeo’s live show one of the top 10 performances at Coachella.
Equally high brow and low brow in everything they do, the Chromeo boys lace White Women with deeper funk, lush arrangements and incredible musicality. There are moments of Love Boat disco in “Play The Fool”, neo-electro in “Frequent Flyer”, 80s blue collar nostalgia in “Old 45s”, cinematic orchestration in “Fall Back 2U” and smooth R&B in “Lost on the Way Home”, an album highlight where Dave 1 and Solange playfully duet. Part Guy Bourdin, part ZZ Top; a dash of Chic with a tongue firmly placed in cheek: such is the mix of sacred and profane that truly defines Chromeo.
There’s dance floor abandon and highly skilled musicianship; there are arched eyebrows and perhaps a tear or two being shed. White Women crystalizes all of this into Chromeo’s best work yet! White Women is out today via Big Beat / Atlantic.