4 out of 5
Label: Thrill Jockey
Produced by: Jan St. Werner, Andi Toma
In my limited jaunt through the works of Mouse on Mars over the years, their albums were always close to something I wanted to listen to more, but never quite found the patience for. Because I was the kind of nappy-haired kid who would spend all of his paycheck on CDs – more than he could properly listen to – that meant I had a few MoM discs that I’d played in passing (enough to catalogue them so I could schmooze about them with my non-existent indie music friends) and then moved on to things I apparently had more patience for, like, I dunno, third wave ska, I guess.
Although I would revisit those albums with a bit more intention later on, they still fell somewhat by the wayside for me; in the intervening years, I think I’d discovered artists to fill the place MoM might’ve so the stuff didn’t click with me, even when it was doing all the right moves – being weird, caustic, and danceable at the same time. Figures the album that I’d probably be most likely to brush off – the “accessible” one – would be the disc to finally grab me, and make me listen.
Radical Connector is pure dancefloor pomp, enlivened with the electronic duo’s penchant for clicky percussion and off-timed beats, but certainly kept on the straight and narrow in terms of keeping body-movin’ as the primary motivator. The vocals, from Dodo Nkishi and Niobe, while varying between hip-hoppy glitch and more sultry or mysterious, are still keyed in to the album’s momentum, working with all the cut and paste booming so that these things truly resemble singles – hooks, beat drops, and all. The neon gloss of the album’s cover is indicative of all of this, and maybe also of the minor downside: the accessibility certainly lessens the feeling of depth of the songs, and much like many singles-based discs, after the midpoint, it does kinda feel like you’ve heard what the album has to offer. There’s no mystery or growth, really, across Radical Connector, but there’s not – to my ears – intended to be: it’s aim is to be fun, and scrape off any “extras” to create the most distilled and friendly version of what Mouse on Mars was, at that point, doing. That’s it’s crafted together from Jan St. Werner’s and Andi Toma’s as-usual inventive out-of-nowhere sense of rhythym is almost absurd – it’s so damn catchy. So what if it’s also rather ephemeral?