Welcome to 2011! Here to ring in the changes is TuneSmith Rob Wood, marking another step towards the future with a blast from the past…
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Tron Legacy by Daft Punk
The future has never sounded so retro: Daft Punk are here to prove it. They pretty much changed the sound of ’90s clubbing with their vocodered disco-whigging, but somehow they’ve remained relevant, ignored the the copycats and have bodyswerved the commercial black hole that dance music careered into. Electronic acts such as Justice may have taken their sound a step further, but when it came to soundtracking the sequel to ’80s cyber-flick Tron, Daft Punk were a no-brainer.
The original film was a futuristic design classic, and the Hollywood remake is unlikely to add much, but with this pair behind the controls the soundtrack has been hotly anticipated. Synthesisers are indeed set to stun on some of the tracks, but this is no dancefloor masterstroke. Instead it fuses a traditional orchestral score with the kind of electronic symphonics that Vangelis and John Carpenter excelled at. The result sounds futuristically retro, which, given that this is intended for an ’80s film revamp based on a computer game, is entirely appropriate. Perhaps it’s not the great new Daft Punk album we hoped for, but this mix of old and new has enough brooding synths to keep the Star Wars-meets-acid house generation powered up for nights on end.
THE SMITH CLASSIC
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
If my radar is working correctly, 2011 will produce some great rock music (look out for the waves Nashville’s Mona will make when they arrive later this year). But for those who missed it, 2010 threw up one of the genre’s genuine triumphs. Arcade Fire’s third long player was a concept album that sounded remarkably unlike its predecessors. It doesn’t happen often, but this group’s journey from underground indie act to worldwide rock outfit has made a great band even better.
The Suburbs is a perfectly realised piece of art rock that is as catchy and surprising as it is clever and unique. ‘Sprawl’ and ‘Half Light’ show the band taking brave new directions, whereas ‘Month Of May’, ‘We Used to Wait’ and ‘The Suburbs’ prove this Montreal-based collective have lost none of their aptitude for generating infectious new wave anthems. This is impossible to ignore and as good as anything Radiohead have made so far.