Normal Position
Rave Killed The Romance

By Ed Chamberlin

 
Released earlier this year, Normal Position's Boyfriend's Car seemed to revel in its lack of subtlety. Shamelessly melodic and pop-like in structure, it rammed spiky, manic beats down your throat and expected you to enjoy it. And those who did hear it certainly did enjoy it. At a time when a lot of electronic music seems designed to have dissertations written about it by pretentious websites (er... isn't that us?, Ed), rather than be danced to, this was exactly what everyone needed: a band with masterful programming skills, who weren't afraid to make their music fun.

So a whole album by Normal Position couldn't be anything other than the wackiest, dancing-est, most grin-inducing album of the year, right? Well, almost right. You see, Rave Killed The Romance doesn't in fact contain Boyfriend's Car, but shows the band expanding their palette, trying different styles and moods. The results are hit and miss, but the album contains enough beautiful, confounding music to keep anyone absorbed for weeks.

Take the opening few tracks, for example; Nursery is a brief electro workout, which segues into ashtray. Augmented by a string quartet and acoustic guitar, the dreamy melodies and scattershot rhythms are as beautiful as they are strange. Nooooo continues the pastoral theme, bringing the beats further to the fore.

The first banging track (and best on the album) is Proper Positions. None of the juvenile humour of the other tracks is evident here, as the band rip drill 'n' bass rhythms to shreds as squealing acid noise spews everywhere, and plenty of hooks protrude from the carnage. This is one of the best pieces of electronic music you will hear this year.

Other highlights include the smooooth Country Girls with its cheeky accordion hook, and the funky It Used To Be So Nice. Elsewhere, the flaws are due not to a lack of talent, but a lack of discipline. Koi Koi Pips, which holds the album's strongest melody, is way too short at just over two minutes. Something that gorgeous should last at least five. On the other hand Up Your Bum seems to go on too long. Again, it's sweet, but the ideas are too thinly spread through the tune, and it could be a good two minutes shorter.

Gobby, which appeared on the Boyfriend's Car EP in a different mix, has to be heard. It's hard to rate the quality of something this singularly weird, as many people will dismiss it, regardless of the obvious skill that went in to it. Suffice to say, it sounds like an Aphex Twin mash-up of a baby blowing a raspberry, with carnival horns and xylophones. A unique creation.

Normal Position occupy a relatively uninhabited territory musically: comedy IDM. They must be commended for not drawing a distinction between high art and lowbrow rubbish, they simply throw it all together to make the most enjoyable sound they can. While they succeed most of the time, by the time you reach the final track Pots Of Spank, a paean to pot noodle, the joke has worn a little thin. Nevertheless, I eagerly await more material from these lovable pranksters.
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