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Kittin / The Hacker - Third Album Music Album Reviews

Thirteen years after their last album together, the electroclash icons return to their roots.

For a few months in the early 2000s, no self-respecting arty dance party was complete without the glacial, if faintly amused, Mitteleuropean tones of Miss Kittin, aka French DJ, producer, and vocalist Caroline Hervé. Songs like “Frank Sinatra,” with the Hacker, and “Silver Screen Shower Scene,” with Felix da Housecat, were at the brief populist peak of electroclash, a short-lived genre that brought alien glamour, DIY showmanship, and a sly sense of humor to rattling electro beats before collapsing under the weight of its own vaingloriousness around 2003.

Kittin and the Hacker’s 2001 debut LP, First Album, was perhaps the musical highlight of the electroclash years, a hooky, gothic-black work that could be laugh-out-loud funny. Their follow-up, 2009’s Two, expanded the duo’s horizons to include straight-up pop and trance-y sparkle, yet it never quite hit the same heights, and the duo went their own ways. Thirteen years on, Kittin and the Hacker are back with Third Album, promising a return to what they do best: “our roots, minimal and raw electro.”

Musical progression isn’t on the menu. Twenty-one years may have passed since First Album, but you’d struggle to notice it from Third Album’s musical makeup, which offers not so much an update of the duo’s trademark sound as a subtle finishing buff with a soft chamois cloth. The production is slightly slicker, the drums kick a little bit harder, and the overall feel is a touch more robust. But on the whole, the electro drum march, percolating Italo-disco synths, and ominous chords of First Album are present, correct, and in fine working order, leaving the more luminous elements of Two stuffed to the back of the wardrobe like a tie-dye T-shirt at the end of summer. This classically dark look suits them: Third Album is home to a host of wonderfully witchy musical moments, from the clipped acid lines and eerie chords of “Ostbahnhof” to the unnervingly beautiful synth riff that runs through “Retrovision” like an unhappy memory.

But if the music on Third Album is similar to the debut, the vocals show more adventure. Hervé’s default tone may still be the glazed and disaffected air of First Album, which she slips into like fine pajamas on songs like “Ostbahnhof” and “19.” But she actually sings on “Malade,” and the song’s chorus soars in a way that the disinterested narrator of “Frank Sinatra” would doubtlessly have considered far too much effort. On “Purist,” meanwhile, Hervé’s voice is stripped of blank cynicism and considerably more engaged, her raw and rather imperfect vocal almost punk rock in spirit.

Lyrically, too, Third Album offers departures from the worlds of nightclubs, glitz, and illicit romances. “Malade” is an astute and rather poignant French-language attack on outdated romantic ideals, while “Retrovision” offers a touchingly accepting look at the passing of time (“Now we are raving without standing/In the sunset of our life”) that brings hitherto unseen emotional depths to the Hacker/Kittin project. That these are the two best songs on Third Album is no coincidence.

For all this, Third Album doesn’t quite reach the heights of First Album. There’s nothing as obviously funny as “Frank Sinatra” (with its classic line, “Do you know Frank Sinatra? He’s dead!”) or as irresistibly hooky as “Stock Exchange,” while “Homme à la Mode” and “La Cave” are dirge-y and underwhelming. On “La Cave,” in particular, it sometimes sounds like Hervé is barking phrases at random, an allergy to rhyme and reason she occasionally succumbed to on Two.

Barring a full-blown electroclash revival, Third Album feels curiously out of joint in 2022—neither contemporary, fashionably retro, nor particularly outmoded. Its success is a sign of how little certain strands of electronic music have moved on over the last two decades, as well as a tribute to the eternal appeal of a catchy vocal over a slamming beat. And there, between stagnation and renewal, base metals and gold, we leave Third Album, a flawed but intriguing record for aging ravers, erstwhile romantics, and fading glamour-pusses alike.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Kittin / The Hacker - Third Album Music Album Reviews Kittin / The Hacker - Third Album Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, April 09, 2022 Rating: 5

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