Datarock – Datarock

Datarock
Datarock

Datarock brandishes an undeniable novelty factor thanks to its humorous lyrics and some slap happy sonics. So listeners will experience a sugar rush and, unfortunately, the headache that follows. Critics call it “dance”, but really Datarock is danceable post-punk that uses pop hooks and humor to draw listeners in. But it’s the music that will bring them back.

Most of the songs on Datarock have bounced around the net since 2005. The album has lasted this long because it isn’t just funny and sparkly – it’s good, too. The creation of Norway’s Frederik Saroea and Ketil Mosnes, Datarock has a surprising shelf life. The duo teamed up to celebrate a mutual affinity for the Talking Heads. But Datarock sounds more synthesized and danceable than Byrne’s Heads.

The album has 13 tracks, none of them filler. Simple but undeniably catchy, track 1, “Bulldozer”, builds with a child’s momentum up to the anti-anthem, “BMX is better than sex!” But the album exhausts that momentum quickly with the next few tracks. Track 2, “I Used to Dance with my Daddy”, starts the dance at mid-tempo and peaks with a hypnotic outro of layered vocal samples. Then, “Computer Camp Love” celebrates the films Revenge of the Nerds and Grease with a vocal dialog that sounds like an absurd musical. It crosses the cornball line, and that joke gets old.

Track 4 heralds Datarock‘s redemption. “Fa-Fa-Fa” is full-on disco, starring strained vocals that shine even over the infectious beat. The hot streak continues with “Princess”, the musical and lyrical better of “Fa-Fa-Fa”. “Princess” nukes the line between dance and punk. “Gaburo Girl” jams a jazz funk guitar over a pop beat. This is one of two tracks which ultimately suffer from an annoying, crooning male vocal. But it’s followed by one of the album’s best tracks.

The new-wave inspired “See What I Care” is full on dance pop that becomes anthemic: “If you want to stay, I’ll stay. OK? But you know I know it’s impossible. If you want me to go, I’ll go away. But you know I’ll be running away on Saturday, running away on Saturday, running away on Saturday”. “Laurie” is the sleeper track that should win listeners over; it’s slower, and sounds like another new wave offshoot.

Of the final four songs, “The Most Beautiful Girl” is the clear standout. More new wave re-invented with an innocent Casio beat and synth package. Great stuff. Meanwhile, “New Song” sounds like Electric Six. Not so great, despite all of it’s energy. “Ugly Primadonna” is more disco that doesn’t age as well as other tracks. “Sex Me Up” stands out mostly for its David Byrne-inflected vocal. And, last, “I Will Always Remember” is traditional disco, with crooning male/female vocal change offs, and the crooning starts to grate. This US release omits 2 tracks: “Night Flight to Uranus”, possibly for decency reasons, and “Maybelline” for legal, commercial issues.

Datarock‘s combination of charm, infectious beats and solid song writing make this a definite success. The good outweighs the bad, and any indie dance, pop or post-punk fan should check it out.