When Chromeo burst into the disco ball-refracted limelight with 2007’s Fancy Footwork, the duo’s eventual remembrance as a late-aughts novelty—the uncouth cousins of Justice and LCD Soundsystem—seemed a foregone conclusion. Simply aping the ’80s can only get a band so far. But like Hot Chip before them, Montreal’s Dave 1 (vocals, guitar) and P-Thugg (beats, keytar) have set out to prove that they’re better musicians than they are ironic, party hat-wearing hipsters. After all, who would argue that Hall And Oates—which, electro aside, is Chromeo’s most audible influence—were faking it?
“Matured” would almost certainly be the wrong word to describe Chromeo’s sound on Business Casual. The record opens with a powerful three-part salvo crafted for maximum dance-floor penetration. “Hot Mess” is a swaggerful blast of robot funk, “I’m Not Contagious” features Vocodered requests to “let the rhythm take your body,” and “Night By Night” sounds like the Knight Rider theme mashed up with “Eye Of The Tiger.” But as the album progresses, an unexpected soulfulness emerges: “Don’t Turn The Lights On” is wistful under all that choppy synthesizer bombast; “Don’t Walk Away” sports actual strings; And “J’ai Claqué La Porte” is bright and minimal, an analog synth-meets-acoustic guitar number sung in French. Even as the lyrics are almost uniformly about the myriad pitfalls and glories associated with bedding down the opposite sex, it’s apparent that Chromeo means it, and that means a lot.