Fatboy Slim traffics in lots of clunky, chunky samples pushed past the point of absurdity, but it's hard to think of one more cartoonish than that in Palookaville's "Slash Dot Dash": Over a thick go-go beat with guitars flying out of the mix, a voice trips over the phrase "slash dot, slash dot, slash dot com," repeating the "dot com" part 34 times in less than three minutes. More compelling than anything happening in the track is the question of what might have been the imagined response to such a sample. Arms-raised rapture? Weekend-warrior dismissal of the workaday grind?
Befuddled confusion over an empty, in all ways meaningless musical choice is more like it. Not all of Palookaville proves so bad, but its many leaden dance tracks leave lots of time to wonder what lies behind Fatboy Slim's entire project at this point. The album gets off to an unfortunate start with "Don't Let The Man Get You Down," whose "long-haired freaky people need not apply" sample invokes Tesla more than Five Man Electrical Band.
From there, Palookaville wanders through a sampledelic spell of mushed-up dance music that heaves when it works and gasps when it doesn't. "El Bebe Masoquista" and "Jin Go Lo Ba" boast floor-filling beats and shifty changes of vantage, circling around the dance anthems at their center. More typical are "Put It Back Together," a pleasant but indistinct midtempo song sung by Blur's Damon Albarn, and "The Joker," a goofy Steve Miller cover that mostly sounds like an excuse to hang out with Bootsy Collins in the studio. Palookaville's highlights promise the sweat and smiles that have become Fatboy Slim's stock in trade, but its surprisingly dull lulls offer nothing more promising than a blank expression.