Simian Mobile Disco
Attack Decay Sustain Release

Reviewed by: Nick Southall
Reviewed on: 2007-06-21

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Posted 06/21/2007 - 07:43:14 AM by Defacto:
 I'm glad someone else can see through this bollocky NuRave nonsense. From what I can make out, this record, Klaxons, and the Pony Club one seem to be the preserve of smug, trustafarian hoxtonite posturing. Dance music was/is about inclusiveness. There is nothing inclusive about this scene, it's chief concerns appear to be looking a bit arch and pouting. "Dance music" has always been more boundary-pushing and sexy than wan indie mewling, so it's understandable why Simian Mobile Disco amongst others are attempting to bolt this aesthetic onto whatever gormless doodling they've come up with (attack & delay are a couple of filters on Garageband). But it's exactly that. An aesthetic. I know I sound puritanical but I find it kinda offensive that these outfits with their nasty treble-y production are attempting to hijack a progressive legacy stretching back decades so they can go on Popworld and smirk. Oh, I dunno. I'm probably just getting old. Tsk.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 07:43:21 AM by npopp5:
 I realize that it was a different reviewer, but it boggles the mind how the Justice album could get a B+ and this a D.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 07:45:36 AM by Defacto:
 Sorry, I meant "Attack & Sustain". I must be getting old.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 08:20:14 AM by meatbreak:
 Defacto, you seem to miss every point you try and make, i'm afraid. Klaxons never were and aren't part of any posturing cliquey group and inclusiveness is what they were always about - probably why their MySpazz friends shot up from 50 to 5000 so quickly before any kind of label / marketing began. No wan mewling either, but I forgive people for missing all the literary and musical references the album is built on. I'm afraid Attack, Sustain, Decay, Release are pretty standard on every single piece of electronic hardware you'd care to name, along with envelopes, oscillators, filters etc etc etc...Well done for spotting them in Garageband, congrats. To say that dance music has a progressive legacy then try and take down bands for attempting to get involved in pushing things into new directions is a little biased and yeah, puritanical, but also naive. If anyone ever saw Simian when they were an 'indie band' they'd know that the live sets were a world away from the pastoral understatedness of the album and tore venues apart with some heavy, pumping electronics stuff and pretty much forgot about the guitars.

Nick - if stuff sounds that bad on your computer then you've got the wrong equipment and probably shouldn't be comparing. Agreed though, this album is kind of thin and unsatisfying in a lot of ways and I agree with pretty much everything you say - hence the D to Justice's B. The Teenagers' remix of I't's The Beat' is really really nice though, you've got to admit.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 08:44:15 AM by NickSouthall:
 For reference, Meatbrak, I listened to ADSR a couple of times in the car, several times on my full hi-fi rig at home, and a couple of times straight off a MacBook's internal speakers; the only time I didn't find the production annoying and headache-inducing was off the MacBook, and then it was useless to dance to...
Posted 06/21/2007 - 08:58:34 AM by Defacto:
 Very gracious of you to forgive me meatbreak, I am indebted. Yeah, I can see how the paragraph might look a little rabid to this scene's supporters and that's fair enough. Different tastes I suppose. I just don't think any of it has an iota of substance. I'm no dance puritan, I'm from an Indie background myself and yeah, I used to love those groups who tried to incorporate elements from other genres because it sounded fresh and dynamic. But I'm also old enough to remember EMF, and this stuff just stirs up some unpleasant memories. Only it sounds more hamfisted and trite. The Garageband ref- I wasn't trying to sound like Jean Michel Jarre, my point was that they sound like an band that has discovered basic bundle software and thought 'yeah, that'll do'. It just sounds half-arsed. But if that gets your rocks off then...
Posted 06/21/2007 - 09:14:32 AM by meatbreak:
 Ah, I wasn't suggesting that you didn't listen to it anywhere else, I just meant that standard computer speakers, especially laptop ones are going to sound pretty crappy, despite the best production efforts to make stuff sound acceptable across a range of equipment. You need some big fat Genelecs or something, coming out of a proper audio interface rather than soundcard to pc speakers if it's to be worthwhile. I'm surprised it sounded better on your macbook and not just a wall of 'kssh kssh kssh'. Is it still true that most producers have radio in mind when they are mastering down to the final mix? I think the Klaxons album sounds great with a lot of neat clever touches, so maybe Ford used up all his energy on that with no tricks left for his own tunes. Whoops.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 09:21:59 AM by meatbreak:
 Hey Defacto. No, no more rabid, and a lot less than some other commenters, I just think the reactionary position against NuRave is rather weak. James Ford had been using a lot of moogs and synths in Simian before SMD and I guess it took the Justice remix to make them realise they should concentrate on that rather than trying to be an indie band incorporating the electronics they were really into. I seem to be alone in thinking the first Simian album was great. Round and Around is really dubby and psychedelic and the way Mr Crow builds into that swirling haze of sounds is really quite effective.

I remember EMF too - I'm A Believer. Oh dear.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 09:28:12 AM by J_R_K_:
 i tried for about ten minutes to convince myself this record was great, but it's really not. some of the tracks will probably grow on me. ASDR is a standard everyone from EMF to Jean Micheal Jarre used to make awesome synth sounds. EMF did put out one good album. i'm going to see SMD live later in the year and I'm betting this material will translate better live than it does on record. I think Digitalism made the album I thought SMD would make and vice versa.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 09:30:13 AM by J_R_K_:
 the original Simian were fantastic, and I actually met someone in college who liked them as well. maybe one day there will be a Simian reunion. I'm waiting for that record. Pick up the guitars! Leave the synths and sequencers for remixing other people's tracks, like that Magick remix.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 11:05:31 AM by badhaircut:
 So that's the actual tagline? Literally? Where does it say that? In a sticker on the CD? In a press release? Where?
Posted 06/21/2007 - 11:18:15 AM by NickSouthall:
 In the press release.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 01:55:59 PM by MikeOrme:
 FYI on the ADSR, ppl
Posted 06/21/2007 - 02:25:43 PM by phuett:
 The second-to-last paragraph is one of the worst pieces of music journalism I've read in as long as I can remember. I understand your general stance that it's just tossed-off "we wanna make everybody dance" music, but your tone betrays any credibility your point may actually have. Next time take a step back and cool off before you create a product as poor as that which you're reviewing.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 03:59:07 PM by karlkafka:
 I'm not even crazy about this album, but Nick Southall is a moron. Go on over to Pitchfork to read Jess Harvell's sane, reasoned review. Jess Harvell is a good writer with good taste, Nick Southall just embarrasses himself over and over again.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 05:56:03 PM by adentice:
 Actually, it's the politico-psycho-babble bollocks of that last paragrpah that makes me want to vomit. Thanks for pointing out the Pitchfork review because it settled my stomach. The grinch-like way in which Nick tells us how we can and can't be "hedonistic" is quite ridiculous. This is fun dance music. GET OVER YOURSELF.
Posted 06/21/2007 - 10:10:24 PM by sovietpanda:
 I don't get all these claims of treble-y and un-dance-able sound. I've played multiple tracks from this album out at the club and they always sound great and get a really good response from the crowd. SMD definitely DO know their way around a DJ set and build and release and all that. This review almost completely misses the point. Also, I replaced the album version of the singles with the original, longer-length tracks, and that really makes the album for me. I hate the shortened versions. And I think the album title is brilliant. And please stop with all the utopian dance music inclusiveness, it's really boring. I'll take hedonism any day over that stuff.
Posted 06/22/2007 - 09:09:07 AM by J_R_K_:
 switching the singles from the shortened versions to the 12" mixes is a really good idea.
Posted 06/22/2007 - 09:25:41 PM by karlkafka:
 I wanna take back what I said about Nick Southall being a moron. I know he probably doesn't care at all about what gets said about him in the comments box, but I just felt bad about it. I must've been in an irritable mood at the time or something.
Posted 06/25/2007 - 04:01:11 AM by vinegar:
 Wow, how spectacularly wide of the mark. A Southall fan usually, I was unpleasantly surprised to see a review written, apparently, to get some chip off his shoulder (about New Rave perhaps, but SMD do not necessarily have anything to do with that; or possibly some boring old pop vs indie battle (that war has been won mate, move to the next level), instead of writing it about the album itself. Indeed, Jess Harvell's review of this album at Pitchfork (8.4) is a lot closer to my own feelings about the album - a celebration of bubblegum and dance-pop chart hits of the last 25 years, and especially about "It's a Beat" - a winning combo of electro (old and new) and 1989-style pop techno, which made me - 17 in 1989 - go all "emotional" the first time I heard it. I'm a bit worries that the attack this review launches (at indie artists who appropriate dance stylings) is more of a personal, revisionist vendetta... Maybe Nick Southall was too busy listening to the Stone Roses back in the day to enjoy "Big Fun", "Pump up the Jam" or "House Arrest". For those to whom these songs mean anything at all, SMD are equal parts nostalgia and a breath of fresh air.
Posted 06/25/2007 - 03:50:17 PM by J_R_K_:
 pretty sure SMD had something to do with new rave. curating compilations of klaxons, datarock and "i know kung-fu"...
Posted 06/26/2007 - 06:13:57 AM by vinegar:
 Well, OK - I meant that SMD's own stuff isn't all that similar sonically to most of the Nu Rave crap I've heard. (Also, Mr Southall would have been 9 or 10 in the late eighties I was just talking about, I now realise from his 1996 piece. Which may go a long way to explain his failing to see the 80s dance music legacy in SMD. Which in turn implies that SMD is mainly for old people like me, but that can't be right.)
Posted 06/26/2007 - 05:51:10 PM by NickSouthall:
Posted 06/28/2007 - 05:40:17 PM by vinegar:
 Haha! Well, then you must simply be deaf, Sir. Or at least extreeemely unwilling to hear that exact legacy in there. Goes to show that people hear what they want to hear (and I realise that sentence works in both directions) (yours and mine, I mean, not anagrammatically speaking)
Posted 06/28/2007 - 05:40:51 PM by vinegar:
 Palindromatically, I meant.
Posted 06/28/2007 - 05:41:49 PM by vinegar:
 Blast. Me and my stupid "intelligent" jokes.
Posted 06/28/2007 - 06:18:49 PM by NickSouthall:
 I see it as bare-faced exploitation, not legacy. The terrible production, the truncated, ADD songwriting, the signifiers with no substance - it's a sham, an affectation, capitalist nostalgia-as-product.
Posted 06/29/2007 - 09:03:34 PM by phuett:
 "James Ford and James Shaw started playing Electronic music together before Simian formed and began DJing clubs during in between Simian's touring commitments." Also, I'm pretty sure they use mostly analog equipment.
Posted 07/04/2007 - 05:26:58 AM by connorobrien1:
 I thought that review was fairly weak, sorry. Any time I read a reviewer taking down the supposed nu-rave "scene", I switch off, because I know the exact rant that will follow: an "I'm too smart for fashion, so I'll denounce all the listeners as bubbleheaded poseurs". Ironically, the term "nu-rave" is rarely used by fans of Klaxons or SMD... probably because said fans are open-minded enough to take the time to listen to the music, without relying completely on the labelling system created by "cool merchants" at the NME. What if the NME never introduced the term at all? Would your review have been completely different? Is it just that you are afraid of liking something popular for fear of being "sucked in" by those fat old capitalist pigs? Oh, and specifically, in response to your claim that the band has "no knowledge of how to build a mood to a climax"... did you even listen to Sleep Deprivation? Binge-hedonism is fine with me, in any case.
Posted 07/16/2007 - 08:42:32 AM by martiantone:
 First of all, LCD Soundsystem has no emotional content whatsoever, and THAT that shit, as with all DFA releases is pure indie nonsense for kids who would have called the same releases 'faggy' had they been released ten years earlier. Second of all, this album is nowhere near as much of a Daft Punk rip-off as is the Justice album. Third, you could just as well say that indie-kid poseurs listen to Kompakt for the same reasons; I find Kompakt to be some of the most boring music made this decade, and a shame considering a lot of other good electronic stuff has come out of Germany in the past few years, and no one has bothered to review it. Fourth, anyone who thinks attack and decay are only on Garageband is an imbecile, and qualifies for the kind of poseur at hand. Last but not least, 'nu-rave' can never truly be a scene because raves wouldn't happen at hair parties or East London shit clubs. I've been listening to dance music for most of my life and have finally come to terms with it: people grew up on drum machines and synths and now we have to deal with the fact that they are as ubiquitous as guitars. I don't think producers of this kind of music are calculated enough to be exploiting the past, or thinking about it within some pretentious critical theory framework; this isn't Mille Plateaux, it's just a pop record. I am still getting over the LCD Soundsystem comparison. Dude, THAT is exploitation.