A couple of L.A.-area skater kids get together and start making music — a California story if there ever was one. With a kind of dance-heavy disco-funk sound, they’re already drawing comparisons to LCD Soundsystem and the legendary Talking Heads. With that kind of hype floating around, people are almost legally required to take notice of a record like De Lux’s first full-length release, Voyage.
The album kicks off in full disco mode with “Better Off Making Time,” a jam of rolling drums topped with the stickiest bass line and jangliest guitars, and it’s all butter. Yet somehow the artists manage to take this promising start and slam it into the ground with a cacophonous steel drum anti-melody that overpowers every other element on the track with its noxious presence. By the time the chorus of vocals comes in, so off key that they sound like a piano that’s barely survived being dropped out a window, you might find yourself reaching for the stop button.
However, it’s not all that bad — though if this is the leadoff single that’s garnering De Lux buzz and acclaim, you really have to wonder about people. Voyage does pick up a bit later. “I’ve Got to Make a Statement” is an absolutely shining track, with sweet keyboard melodies playing against dueling bass-lines and layered vocals in perfect harmony. It’s funky perfection in total harmony, and a stark contrast to the senseless pastiche that opened up the record. “On the Day” is another winner, blending the funk and disco elements of the preceding tracks with a surf-rock sound that just plain works.
It’s clear where the comparisons are coming from. De Lux is heavy on the dance-hype feel, with the kind of bright and eclectic sounds that make LCD irresistible. As for the Talking Heads nods, well… the vocals often sound like David Byrne and the similarities die right about there. The record is worth a listen — when it’s hot, it’s really hot. However, don’t be surprised if you find yourself skipping through all but a handful of tracks. De Lux holds it down pretty well, but they lack the sensibility to avoid making those moments that bring you close to punching through your speakers.