Who Made Who
Who Made Who
ate 2005 may not be the ideal time to debut as a dance-punk outfit, as critics have already begun to write off the genre as yesteryear’s tired fad. Trendy as it may be, one cannot completely dismiss the impact the movement has had for the better. Now more than ever, indie rock snobs are embracing electronic music like a lovable bedwetting stepchild and vice versa. Never has there been so much crossover acceptance between the two scenes, and you can bet the LCDs, Zongamins, and Munks of the world have had something to do with that.
Danish trio Who Made Who could have easily played a big part in this paradigm had they only surfaced a bit sooner. The band’s debut self-titled full length, while not as distinct as the work of some of its more prolific peers, shows a lot of proficiency in the realms of both rock and dance. This is somewhat of an oddity within the genre.
The potential problem with the disco-punk formula comes from a lack of balance between rock and dance backgrounds. Your archetypal outfit in the genre will customarily have either a background in rock or dance as opposed to rock and dance. (Nevertheless, the three members of WMW have backgrounds in house, garage rock and jazz.) The repercussion is that a rock band may find its members picking up samplers, sequencers and other previously foreign assortments of gadgetry in order to fit the trend. Conversely, a dance producer with no guitar-playing experience may procure a rickety old Epiphone in hopes of learning a few chords on the fly. This is precisely where WMW stands out. These boys’ rock foundation is equally as ripe and graceful as their dance foundation. Their instrumentation goes beyond the cowbell spasms and catchy-but-one-dimensional slap basslines of their contemporaries. Their aptitude in songwriting and great vocals almost sounds unnatural alongside the tight atmospherics, 303 acid loops and adept synth riffs found throughout the album.
Even from the get go, Who Made Who twinkles with hefty songwriting chops. Track 1, “Rose,” demonstrates a cleverly psychedelic disco palette with a catchy sing-along chorus and funk-savvy bassline. “Space for Rent” finds things at a slower 6/8 time signature, recalling the genteel glam-rock stylings of a late-career Roxy Music. The trio chooses to switch back and forth between vocal and instrumental numbers throughout the album’s duration. However, with the sharply authentic delivery of lead singer, Jeppe Kjellberg, WMW could have just as easily gotten away with recording a full-on album rock vocal record.
While the trio’s songwriting and producing prowess may be far greater than that of their peers, their sound isn’t quite as distinctive as, say, the James Murphys and Juan MacLeans out there. This is in part because they got a late start and are just now making their way to the spotlight. The album also lacks the experimental playfulness found with the DFA and Output labels. There’s no doubt WMW’s impact would have been far greater had it hit shelves in ‘03. How do you say “better late than never” in vocoded Danish?