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Chromeo - White Women

"White Women"

Chromeo White Women Album Artwork
05 May 2014, 13:30 Written by Kate Travers
They're back. The self-appointed 'Funk Lordz' announced the release of White Women via a Valentines Day personal ad on Craigslist. And, as you might expect from its title (borrowed from a Helmut Newton book) – and the band's track history to date – this album is all about women: complimenting them, loving them, living with with them and, crucially, seducing them.

Interesting theme, women, considering Chromeo don’t have such a strong record when it comes to casual sexism towards/the objectification thereof. Keyboards with women’s legs for stands, the entire “Fancy Footwork video”, the artwork for Business Casual... it goes on. But this album does do something to placate their critics on this issue. Kind of…

”Over Your Shoulder” is not just any old smooth groove – it also consciously addresses the issue of female body image. Dave 1 croons “you worry about your size, it’s nonsense”, concluding that “your problems of self esteem could be self fulfilling prophecies so, arguably, your best policy is to talk to me”. Subtext: “are you in need of bit of male validation, baby? Because I’m your man”. But, beneath its uber-nostalgic Hall & Oates aesthetic, “Old 45s” does in fact contain a bit of empathy for women, broaching a common frustration with the beauty standard: “didn’t you get the memo? You only get a date when you’re walking in stilettos. This is enough to drive you mad”. It’s a start, at least.

There is no shortage of big-name collaborations on this record. Toro Y Moi takes a spot on “Come Alive” and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend appears on the delicate “Ezra’s Interlude”, which surrounds Koenig’s vulnerable vocal performance in a sound palette similar to Holy Ghost! at their most reflective. Of all their collaborators, it’s Solange who shines the brightest. The R&B rhythms and harmonies of “Lost On The Way Home” make it leap out from the rest of the material on the album. In truth, Chromeo take a back seat on this one. Solange owns it.

As well as being a test of ‘how many famous mates can we get in the studio with us?’, White Women is also an exercise in versatility. “Jealous” is a slice of pure Max Martin-esque pop. Katy Perry could have just as easily recorded it. “Frequent Flyer” is typically tongue-in-cheek number with lashings of innuendo. “Something Good” and “Fall Back to You”, however, are slick, seductive and – in the case of the latter – seemingly straight-faced and heartfelt. With a slamming sax solo to boot.

Helmut Newton once said his job was to “seduce, amuse and entertain”. Chromeo’s own rendering of White Women hits all the very same marks. One thing is for sure, though: no one is going to dismiss Chromeo as a mere musical comedy act anymore.

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