Available on: Smalltown Supersound LP
Anyone expecting a follow-up to Where You Go I Go Too may be left disappointed by Lindstrøm’s collaboration with Christabelle. After that longform cosmic journey, the Norwegian superproducer has decided to keep things short and sweet. In place of 30- and 15-minute instrumental epics, we have a collection of songs, the longest of which checks in at 6:21.
And whereas Where You Go was designed to be consumed in one (reefer and headphones) sitting, Real Life has the flavour of a musical selection box, a disparate group of treats sitting together because they share a manufacturer (or rather manufacturers), not necessarily because they make artistic sense together. Adding to this feeling is the fact that three of the tracks – ‘Music In My Mind’, ‘Let’s Practise’ and ‘Let It Happen’ – have been released previously, while the penultimate ‘Never Say Never’ is a two-minute reverse rehash of highlights from the other numbers on the album.
Despite these caveats, there is much to enjoy in Real Life Is No Cool. The opening ‘Looking For What’ starts with a cacophony of backwards vocals before evolving into a delicious, dubbed out 120 bpm groove that sits perfectly with Christabelle’s deeply sensual voice. When she sings “girl take off your shoes and feel free” it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to resist.
Second track ‘Lovesick’ is even better, featuring spoken/whispered vocals, a brilliant bass line, falsetto counter-melody, piano, claps and a groove that could get any room moving in seconds.
The Vangelis cover ‘Let It Happen’ is next up, another awesome track with ‘cosmic’ lyrics (“throw away fear on the wheel of life”) and signature Lindstrøm production to boot. It segues into the curiously erotic ‘ballad’, ‘Keep It Up’, which sounds like a remix of an outtake from Prince’s ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ sessions, complete with breathy vocals and exhortations to “get it up, keep it up”.
‘Music In My Mind’ you probably know already from It’s A Feedelity Affair. This new version is shorter, with a beefed up bassline and sounds better as a result.
At the midpoint of No Cool sits the recent single ‘Baby Can’t Stop’. I’ve given my thoughts on this already, and nothing has changed there, suffice to add that it seems to belong on a different record entirely to the rest of these tracks (perhaps Street Sounds Electro 3?).
A truncated version of the awesome ‘I Feel Love’ rewrite ‘Let’s Practise’ quickly re-establishes the dominant vibe of the album, before the bonkers ‘So Much Fun’, which kicks off like a housewarming at which Morris Day and Sylvester have jointly discovered Chicago House until Gong show up and noodle all over the vibe. Sounds like my kind of party, but it may not be everyone’s cup of (mushroom) tea.
After that high, the backwards interlude of ‘Never Say Never’ and the closing ‘High & Low’ come as something of an anticlimax. True, the latter does show that Lindstrøm & Christabelle can deliver a late 80s-style soul ballad as well as the next Alexander O’Neal & Cherelle wannabes, but, like ‘Baby Can’t Stop’, it comes across as virtuosic versatility for the sake of it. All in all then a mixed bag, but one well worth dipping into for its finest cuts.