WhoMadeWho: Brighter

Following up its previous full-length The Plot and 2011 mini-album Knee Deep, WhoMadeWho returns with Brighter, the Copenhagen, Denmark trio's fourth full-length of infectious dance-pop. Formed in 2003, the group consists of drummer Tomas Barfod, bassist Tomas Hoffding, and guitarist Jeppe Kjellberg, with the latter two contributing vocals, falsetto and otherwise, to the fifty-minute disc's eleven songs. Hooks are plentiful and strong, and the tracks compose a stylistically diverse whole. The group's grooves are typically more rooted in disco and funk than punk, with the bass riffing on classic disco and the drum beats firmly in the 4/4 pocket. The songs also often evidence a New Wave-styled character that at times calls Talking Heads to mind, especially when a smattering of David Byrne's customary agitation seeps into the vocal delivery of many songs (e.g., “Running Man,” “Greyhound,” “Head On My Pillow,” “Skinny Dipping”).

A prototypical disco pulse powers the electro-swirl and feathery vocals that adorn the effervescent pop of “Inside World,” while the synth-heavy focus of “Never Had the Time” and “Head On My Pillow” moves the group's sound into a more purely synth-pop zone. As a song, the schaffel stomp “The Sun” recalls Goldfrapp, although there's obviously a big difference between WhoMadeWho and Goldfrapp in the vocal department. In other cases, delicate harmony vocals are deployed in such a way that some distant trace of The Beach Boys emerges (during “Fireman” and “The End”). Little is left to chance on this solid outing, as each song is a tightly packed, four-minute construction that's not so polished and obsessed-over that the life is drained from it. Having said that, long-time Kompakt devotees might, upon reflection, find themselves struck by just how much the label's music has changed since its early days, as there's precious little in common between WhoMadeWho's vocal pop and the instrumental tracks produced by the likes of Reinhard Voigt and Jürgen Paape in the early 2000s.

April 2012