Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Review: Urban Myth Club - Open Up
I can't remember where I got the listening recommendation for Urban Myth Club, but at some point it ended up on my Spotify playlists. According to their rather self-congratulatory bio, Urban Myth Club are well known enough to have been in the iTunes Top 30, although that's a fairly abstract achievement. Suffice to say I knew nothing about them before I pressed play on their new album, Open Up. What did I hear, you ask? A very listenable collection of downtempo breaks, dear reader, that's what!
Now "downtempo breaks" is a pretty vague description, but none of the alternatives are much more helpful. "Avalanches-lite" is perhaps the best I can think of: lots of sampled hooks, spoken vocals, nice and pleasant summery vibes... you know the drill. You've heard Since I Left You a million times, and probably quite a few of its imitators as well as you sat around waiting for a new Avalanches album, before eventually getting bored and giving up on the genre. This kind of stuff was massive shortly after the turn of the millenium. For a while, it seemed like the only guys in electronic music making any money were the likes of Lemonjelly, Royksopp and Blue States (was that last one a little too obscure for you?). Now all of those guys are pretty much forgotten, consigned to those second-hand bargain bins where all the music seems to have come from 2002, fighting for air alongside a thousand shitty hard house compilations and Craig David albums.
This is soundtrack music. Nokia-tronica. It's designed as background music for that fictitious hyperreal city where all the mobile phone adverts are shot, the ambiguously Euro-American one where all the streets are sunny and clean and suspiciously empty, and a small cast of young white middle class protagonists wander around while magical things happen to them as part of over-reaching visual metaphors for changing their phone tariff.
Anyway, what the fuck was I talking about? Oh yes. Urban Myth Club. As you should have discerned by now from the preceding nonsense, I'm not exactly sold on this sound. It's... lightweight. Pleasant, vaguely poppy, inoffensive. Most importantly, the formula has been rinsed to absolute death in the last ten years, and I've still to hear anyone do it better than the Avalanches. This album might sound nice on a summer's afternoon while you're chilling in the garden with friends, but I've got a billion and one albums that do that better. It may be very listenable, but it's also very average.
Genre: Sugar-free Since I Left You-step
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 6/10