Pepe Deluxé - Spare Time Machine
Pepe Deluxé's biggest achievement thus far would appear to be the use of a song in a Levi's ad. (If you can actually remember how the tune, Woman In Blue, goes without any prompting, you did better than me.) Like many similarly honoured acts, however, they rather disappeared from the public eye afterwards - without doubt a good thing in the case of Babylon Zoo and Stiltskin.
Spare Time Machine is the Finnish duo's third album and their first entirely free from samples. (Their debut had to be redone three times to avoid licensing issues.) And yet a record could hardly sound more stuck together than this. Take Lucky The Blind Vs. Vacuum Cleaning Monster; summery pop and girly vocals rub up against psychedelic organ and bongos, not to mention a long section reminiscent of Johnny Cash.
The overriding impression is Spare Time Machine was fun to record (you can imagine the "hey, let's make LSD music" mission statement), but many a listener will be asking themselves: is this self-consciously quirky and therefore annoying, or is it a good, imaginative pop album? Tracks such as The Mischief Of Cloud Six and the aforementioned Lucky The Blind Vs. Vacuum Cleaning Monster may support the latter theory, while Pussy Cat Rock, an overly wacky blast of psychedelic garage rock, and Captain Carter's Fathoms, not least because of its spoken word bits about Mars, may draw you towards the former.
Spare Time Machine is all very clever and laden with hooks, but it fails to make much of an emotional connection. So while the music of The Go! Team might be a good reference point, nothing here transcends a sense of farting about to materialise into a teary-eyed beauty akin to Everyone's A VIP To Someone. It's even more disappointing when you consider the involvement of label and country mates, and general purveyors of gorgeous music, Husky Rescue in a number of these tracks. Still, despite, or maybe because of, the trippy logic, this will no doubt be one of the most inventive and colourful albums of 2007; and deserves a cautious recommendation for that.