Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is someone I’ve written a fair bit about this year, for his Krautnoodle disco marathon with Prins Thomas, “II”, and especially for his amazing remix of “Ant 10” by the Boredoms on “Super Roots 10”.
The latest project from the Norwegian producer, however, is quite different; a hook-up with Mauritius/Norwegian singer Christabelle (formerly known as Solale, confusingly) that’s a long way from the awe-inspiring kosmische textures of “II” or Lindstrøm’s pomped-up solo jam from 2008, “Where You Go I Go Too”.
Instead, “Real Life Is No Cool” is predicated on how the pair, according to Lindstrøm, “Found out that we shared many of the same musical references, such as Motown, Grace Jones, ‘80s soul, Vanity 6 etc.” Plenty of it, consequently, sounds like a high-gloss, high-glamour kind of ‘80s electronic pop – though distinctly more cosmpolitan than a lot of the ‘80s revivalism that’s been busy in the UK charts this year.
Often, it feels like Lindstrøm is simultaneously respecting and deconstructing his inspirations. From the first skid of reversed babble that begins “Looking For What”, through a clutch of tracks that sound like long, sultry preliminaries, extended teases that stretch out in unexpected ways, it’s clear he’s applying a sort of radical techno science to compacted pop ideas. I guess a useful comparison might be Vladislav Delay’s explorations of vocal house music under his Luomo guise.
Delay, though, hasn’t made an album as strong as this in years. Christabelle is a great, breathy frontwoman – excelling on manicured prowls like “Lovesick” – but it’s still hard not to focus on what Lindstrøm is up to. Listening closely to, say, “So Much Fun”, there’s still much of the feints and detailing that he’s brought to earlier records, albeit deployed with less bombast.
You can hear a touch of Grace Jones in Christabelle’s voiceover on the gorgeous “Music In My Mind”, but the ‘80s soul strain is much stronger, especially that of Jam & Lewis. The closing “High & Low”, in particular, is a crystalline slow jam that reminds me a little of Cherrelle’s “Saturday Love”, which is just fine.
There’s also a neat Summer/Moroder pastiche, “Let’s Practise”. I realise some of this may be a hard sell to some of you, not least articulating the pleasures of “Baby Can’t Stop” when the reference points seem to be “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”and Miami Sound Machine’s “Dr Beat”. But I don’t think it’s just residual affection for Lindstrøm that makes me like this. Some of the other people in the office look a bit homicidal when I keep playing it, mind…