Atmosphere – The Fun EP (Happy Clown Bad Dub Eight)

5 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: Atmosphere

Very much of the DNA of what’s one of my favorite Atmosphere albums – and including two alternate takes from it – The Fun EP stuffs in all of the rock- / pop-influenced sharpness of You Can’t Imagine the Fun We’re Having and boils it down to the most perfect, focused expressions of the sound, with Slug’s observational and party-themed narratives at their most mature and amusing.

This was a great point in Atmosphere’s long run: established enough to be playful, mature enough to move past the ex-girlfriend obsessions, but young enough to not go searching for meanings not quite reachable via Slug’s pen, and far from the duo lyrically / musically commentating on their own legacy, which would affect their later releases. The Fun EP is perfectly named, juggling street-level narratives and life-is-simple odes to women and, y’know, sex but giving both due enthusiasm and swagger, such that extremes of sappiness or profaneness are balanced out with a wry smile throughout, a reminder of how smart Slug’s writing can be when he’s not trying to make some grand point. And the production is spot-on; the alternate You Can’t Imagine Tracks (Say Hey There; Panic Attack) have a rawness that gives them an edge over the very polished originals, vibing with the remaining drum-heavy beats Ant delivers throughout, embellished with just the right dash of soul samples to give them a groove.

When Atmosphere is on, I definitely get it – I get why they would’ve been so hyped, and why they built such a following. Happy Clown Bad Dub Eight is all of that hype distilled, each track instantly catchy and in need of a repeat before you can move on to the next instantly catchy track.