Words: Amanda Nicholls
O2 Academy – Thursday 2nd May 2013
The brand new baby of golden boy Danger Mouse is, on paper, an interesting prospect to behold. Comprised of drummer Matthew Compton and Asa Taccone (writer of The Lonely Island’s ‘Dick in a Box’, and Emmy award-winner because of it), Electric Guest is an LA outfit specialising in the kind of breezy melodies and bouncy beats best suited to the Sunset Strip – their brand of sun-drenched vibes no doubt went down a treat during their residency at The Echo last year.
A brief preliminary earful of debut album Mondo does say ‘Danger Mouse’ all over it. Elements of light funk, soul and synthy electro-pop make up its DNA – it’s like mom was MGMT and dad was Plan B, pleading his case in the witness box. It’s a slick poolside soundtrack, sweeping up the debris from various decades. I’m keen to see how it plays out on the live stage – and whether or not it falls flat.
Accompanied by Todd and Tory Dahlhoff, Compton and Taccone emerge with confidence, the kind that probably comes from having one of the most sought-after producers of the moment sitting in your back pocket – a secret weapon to brandish at the first sign of criticism. ‘This Head I Hold’ does put me in mind of Plan B’s blue-eyed soul brought up-to-date, although Taccone’s is smoother – full of Cali charm rather than cockney grit. The drums are infectious, as are helium-filled, androgynous vocals – tinged with that halcyon Empire of the Sun quality. It’s not massively memorable though, and lacks the visceral quality of Mr Strickland Banks.
You can’t help but compare the slight of frame, sharp-as-a-tack Taccone to fellow falsetto favourer Jake Shears, and his sound to the likes of Foster the People. ‘Awake’ channels plenty of their pumped-up kicks with its summery bassline (Taccone cracking out the old tambourine for extra summer shimmer). Innocuous opener ‘Under the Gun’ proves the album’s worth as radio-friendly, light listening. Our all-American Electric frontman (‘you guys are the best!’) bounds from track to track, fully charged. Loose and spirited, he’s got more character than expected. Fingers are crossed for a surprise Lonely Island cover, but it’s not to be…
‘Troubleman’, ‘The Bait’ and a sneak preview of ‘Back on Me’ keep the set ticking over. The opening bars of ‘Waves’ sound like a fairground carousel, and the chorus is too much like candy floss for my liking – airy and saccharine. The darker inflections of ‘American Daydream’ offer a welcome change of pace, something more muscular. Where vocals are somewhat lost in other places, here Taccone stands out.
Take Mondo at face value and it could well be a summer seller. It’s enough to transport you into that pleasant poolside reverie, but not to break any ground. Hyped as the next big thing by some, maybe only follow-up work will tell whether credit is due or whether someone is riding on the Midas touch of the Mouse.