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Chromeo brings unique sound across the border

Corbin Hicks | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Even if you were familiar with the works of Herbie Hancock, Roger Troutman, T-Pain, techno, and 70’s-era disco music, you still wouldn’t understand Chromeo musically.

Chromeo is a duo hailing from Montreal, Quebec, made up of artists P-Thugg and Dave. They bring a style of music that resides in its own genre due to an infusion of many types of music. They combine guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, jazz horns, other techno staples and a synthesizing “talk box.”

Imagine the guy from the hook on 2Pac’s “California Love” with the lyricism and style of T-Pain, and that gives you a taste of what P-Thugg brings to the table. On top of that, you have the traditional harmonizing and vocal skills of the other half of the group, which combine for a musical joyride.

“Fancy Footwork” is the duo’s second released album, and is the follow-up to their debut record “She’s In Control.” In the three years between releases, Chromeo became more comfortable with their genre-bending style of music and display their confidence proudly throughout the album.

With the album featuring more instrumentation and singing, and less of the talk box, you have to feel that Herbie Hancock is smiling somewhere, knowing that someone else is able to internalize his style of music and combine the same elements of jazz and electronic funk in a manner that feels natural.

The four-minute, 11-song offering that is “Fancy Footwork” begins with an intro track fit for the Super Bowl. The instrumental is reminiscent of the Chicago Bulls theme song during the year they went 72-10, and the chanting gives it, as Kanye West would say, “Stadium Status.”

This leads into the two singles that were released from the album, “Tenderoni” and the title track. The former does enough to keep your attention, gradually introducing you to the trademark sound of the duo. The title track, however, is Chromeo at its best, as the upbeat tempo is complemented by the singing of Dave 1.

The lyrics don’t attempt to overpower the musical experience but are intended to add to the landscape of sounds that pleasantly swirl around your ears. The next song is “Bonafied Lovin,” which the duo recently performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”. There are a couple of shorter tracks after this song, robbing Chromeo of the opportunity to get funky with the music. But then you reach another peak of the album.

“Opening Up” would have undoubtedly been a hit in the 80’s, with hints of the timeless catalogs of Madonna, Prince and Morris Day. The song has a melody and a groove that are sure to make anyone get up and start dancing and would be perfect for an early morning jazz workout.

The next song, “Momma’s Boy,” is Chromeo’s lone attempt to stray from their proven formula. The song focuses on the lyrics and the singing rather than the instrumentation, and it’s done very well. The lead singer harmonizes perfectly with the music, and the lyrics will undoubtedly put a smile on anyone’s face as he sings his heart out to a girl calling him a “Momma’s Boy.”

The subsequent tracks do well to close out the album on a high note, and the best is “100%.” It’s almost as if Chromeo doesn’t want the party to end, and baits you into restarting the album due to the short duration of the songs.

While this type of sound may not initially be appealing to all people, the music takes over, and its excellence shines through. Despite not fitting into one category, “Fancy Footwork” appeals to fans of all genres and should be given a chance to win over any listener.