Saturday 20 June 2020

Songs Of The Times (Chromeo - Quarantine Casanova)

I was looking through bandcamp yesterday to scoop some releases and support their latest charity donation incentive for Juneteenth, and when I was browsing I found out that Chromeo had made a mew mini-EP during lockdown, so I thought I'd give it a look. It has the suitably Chomeo-style title of Quarantine Casanova.

Let's go over to Dave of Chromeo with a quote from the bandcamp page describing the process:

“Honestly, it started as a joke,” says Chromeo frontman Dave 1. “At the beginning of quarantine, we hunkered down in our studio, freestyled a song called ‘Clorox Wipe’ and posted it online to cheer people up. The response was overwhelming. So we wrote another one, and another one. Fans kept asking if we were going to release them for real, so after a couple of weeks, we obliged.” “As usual, it’s a high brow-low brow thing with us,” adds synth master P-Thugg. “These are obviously the funniest tracks we’ve ever written, but they connected in such a visceral way. We figured if we were to put them out, there would have to be a charity and an awareness component.”

Chromeo have always had a bit of self awareness in their style, often embracing the cheesier side of funk in a charming way. Quarantine Casanova is no different at least from a lyrical standpoint, the tongue is FIRMLY in cheek here. That's something that might be a turn off for some, I admit I was torn between eye-rolls and smirks at some of the rhymes, but it's brought in some needed levity to recent happenings.

Clorox Wipe is the first order of the day and is definitely a solid way to start the EP. I have been very much out of touch with what Chromeo have been doing since Business Casual 10(!) years ago now, from what I recall they were fleshing out their sound and I wasn't a super fan of it at the time, it's since grown on me but the point stands. Probably due to lockdown, the EP has an overall more basic feel, evoking for me the breakout days of Fancy Footwork (Even down to the tiny bonus tracks at the end of the songs!) which is refreshing to hear. I still have a major soft spot for that sound even all these years later.

I promised myself that I wouldn't harp too much on the humorous side of the album, but there is something inherently funny about a funky slow jam about respecting social distancing rules. It's worth noting that despite the jokey nature of the content and lyrics, neither of the Chromeo boys have taken it as an excuse to cut corners, the EP is solid throughout, I adore the glittery 80's intro on this one, and as you all well know I could listen to vocoders all day every day so there is more than enough for me to get my teeth stuck into here.

I really appreciate this one, the lyrics so far have been relatable at a base level but this one hits on another level, a combination take-down of influencers and the like, as well as a reassuring anthem if you're finding it hard in the current climate. Choice lines such as "Everybody's always bragging about all their activities / But there's really nothing wrong with zero productivity" are (to use an already overused internet phrase) really wholesome. Not to say that the humour is lost though, there are also lines like "You ain't gotta look fly when you're underneath the covers / You got WiFi, then you're covered" which never fails to make me grin a little, partly because of that absolutely dubious rhyme!

Skipping over one track for one final slow jam, that also takes the wholesomeness to another level; what starts as Dave lamenting all the Quarantine problems you've come to expect at this point but takes a lovely turn toward the end with this stanza:
So if you're seriously depressed
Suffering from all the loneliness
Close your eyes and this is what you do
You can picture us

Stuck in a room with you

Which is a lovely thought, and a nice twist that makes it not yet another track just about quarantine. The instrumentals also get a chance to shine not long after hat, not that I hate Dave's vocals or anything but up until now I don't think the instrumentation has had a chance to take center stage. (Not that it matters as the rest of the tracks on the EP are instrumentals of the above!)

The price is fairly reasonable I thought (but I am in GBP after all), but I appreciate not all of you will have the freedom of expendable income right now. If you do, consider picking this one up, it's a quality slice of Chromeo funk and all proceeds from the sales are being donated to Know Your Rights Camp's COVID-19 Relief Fund.For convenience, here is a link to the Bandcamp page! If this is your introduction to Chromeo, definitely check out the rest of their work, as mentioned before I feel like this release is most similar to Fancy Footwork (But I also haven't listened to their last two albums either so take that with a grain of salt), but if you like this odds are you'll find their whole discography appealing!

As always, stay safe and enjoy the music


1 comment:

Sentari said...

Interesting! Love Chromeo, and it's it's actually quite similar to a video I plan on releasing soon (stay in your PJ's kinda vibe). I lost track of what they were up to for a little bit, good way to come back in. Nice article!