Norwegian producer Lindstrom made his name with long, languorous disco that tipped toward ’70s kosmische drama and boasted enough naturalism—in the way it heaved and in its drum sounds, especially—to slot in with the likes of LCD Soundsystem and others in the realm of dance-rock. His long-play approach reached its apotheosis in 2008 with Where You Go I Go Too, an album made up of three extended tracks that proved formidable pieces of work, but also sounded, on the whole, a bit overdetermined and undercooked. Lindstrom’s faith in his ideas was rare and impressive, to be sure; he just needed better ideas, or at least more of them.
Real Life Is No Cool avoids the same fate by moving with more of a pop-song metabolism. The album was made in collaboration with Christabelle, a singer with roots in Norway and Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean whose official website urges prospective visitors to “take your best beach and casual wear.” The result is an album that squeezes a lot of air and atmosphere into songs that take no more time to make their point than Nu Shooz’ “I Can’t Wait.” That ’80s pop marvel (the sliding guitar! the boogie-beat drums!) makes a good reference point for Real Life, which slinks through warm spells of mid-tempo ease in highlights like “Music In My Mind” and “High & Low.” Elsewhere, it moves just as swooningly at dance-music speed, especially on “Baby Can’t Stop,” a miraculously celebratory piece of pop—with horns and funky muted guitar—that would have sounded great behind Lionel Richie or Billy Ocean back in the day.