In an either really brave or really dumb move, Vampire Weekend‘s Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot‘s Wes Miles team up for a project that examines neo-R&B, touches on contemporary dance music, and celebrates the frequently maligned studio gadget: the Auto-Tuner. It’s unsettling at first, particularly if you’re a fan of either one of the duo’s full-time gigs, and if you’re patently against that aforementioned atrocity, it’s safe to recommend that you save your time and stop reading now.
Personally, it’s not a matter of hating such novel devices—it’s about hating how much they’re relied upon. On LP, about 30% of the tracks have it and the songs that have it on them are irreparably damaged as a result; they either don’t need it or become instantly forgettable.
Unfortunately, one of them is a cover of Michael Jackson‘s “I Want You Back.” With nearly every syllable treated with Auto-Tune and fits of laugher after half-hearted attempts a soulful vocal prowess, it’s a weak performance and a rather tacky one given the recent passing of MJ.
Then there’s guest vocalist Angel Deradoorian’s (Dirty Projectors) take on “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” Deradoorian attempts a lame Mariah-esque workout with little ability to work with and even less material to build from. Seriously, it’s two-and-a-half minutes of the title chopped up over a bare version of Tom Tom Club via Mariah Carey‘s “Fantasy.”
That leaves 60% of an album that’s quirky, fun, and slightly infectious. LP sounds like it was a joy to make and it’s obvious that the time devoted in the creation was restricted to weekends, late-nights, and during moments of downtime.
While that doesn’t make it any less infectious, it does contribute a curious blend of weirdness as tempos break fast/slow and primitive synths fall in and out of the mix.
With more winning cuts like “Osaka Loop Line,” “Swing Tree,” and the closer “Slang Tang,” LP could have become this summer’s ass-shaking release perfectly positioned to get you ready for a night on the town or to keep the rhythm going for the morning commute. Instead, it’s merely a reflection of a pair of shut-ins content on making a record of novelty tones instead of infectious tunes.