If you want to feel a vibe like you’re driving through the intro of a 1980s nightclub-scene television series wearing a bushy moustache, dial into Chromeo. Eminently danceworthy, infectious and ever-so-accessible to millions of electro-funk addicts, the stuff these guys have been exuding for almost a decade capitalizes on the best of what’s simple and fantastic about EDM.
Consisting of best buddies Dave One (David Macklovitch) and Pee Thug (Patrick Gemayel) of Montreal, Canada, Chromeo is a duo that describes itself cheekily as “the only successful Arab-Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture.” Patrick Gemayel was born in Lebanon and immigrated to Canada when he was a child. The two met and became friends in the mid-1990s in high school, and started a band thereafter. Influenced by acts like Prince and Phil Collins, they call their songs passionate, vintage and all about girls.
In the early 2000s Chromeo began releasing albums to positive reviews. She’s in Control (2004) and Fancy Footwork (2007) were snapped up and played by DJs internationally, as well as optioned for video games, commercials and the duo went on a 2-year worldwide tour that saw them play festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza and Glastonbury. Their most recent release, Business Casual (2010) reached #4 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums.
With a pumped-up electro hip-hop sound full of harmonic synths, danceable beats and vocoder magic, Chromeo touches on the seemingly insatiable appetite for 1980s, italo-inspired fun music. On CBCmusic.ca, they were coined as “slick-ass lover’s funk with nary a trace of irony.” And there’s absolutely nothing ironic about their descriptive, relational lyrics – “Hot Mess” describes a man’s confused inner angst over the breakdown in communication between him and his girlfriend, as he apologizes for his crazy temper. This kind of innocence is so refreshing when recited against surging rhythms and appealing hooks, complete with the odd but welcome injection of cowbell, starry sound effects and satisfying build-ups.
Some opinions regard Chromeo as a little too slick, and they’ve been criticized for their near-nerdy devotion to that classical electro sound. People who long for extensive innovation will likely tune out after a few run-throughs of any of the duo’s albums. But Dave One and Pee Thug don’t give a hoo-haw. They’re not doing it for the money; in fact, they have other day jobs, notably Dave One’s position as a French teacher at Columbia University. Their partnership is all about a revival – one that expresses the boys’ undying affection for early-80s digital beats.
Obviously it’s a partnership that knows how to get the job done. Along with their three successful albums, Chromeo has released numerous remixes, compilations and videos. With a revealed dedication to the true nature and meaning of electro-funk, they’ll most likely continue to put out more of the same. The nice thing is, although their approach is dependable, it’s not formulaic. You can expect different things from each track and each album – the themes and style are reliable, but the hooks give you enough variety to keep boogying all night long.