Soulwax – Nite Versions

5 out of 5

Label: PIAS

Produced by: Soulwax

I have been known to roll my eyes at remix albums. I don’t get them. But, fair enough: I’m not the target demo; I’m not the type of person who might enjoy a night out dancing to such remixes (although I remain a bit baffled by the use of such albums outside a club context, but again, I don’t think I’m generally the intended audience), and I’m already at a loss in the first place, because often what’s been remixed isn’t in my playlist.

That said, there are, of course exceptions. Indie kids apparently like to dance sometimes (shock!), leading to remixes of stuff that might be on my playlist, or you get remix albums that are doing so without the intention of being danceable, or in a way that’s hard to even understand as a remix.

But I’m not sure I can fit Soulwax’s Nite Versions into one of my little classification boxes, much like I struggle to fit their overall discography into the same, for the way they’ve proven capable of snaking in and out of so many styles, while somehow hanging on to a core looseness and sense of beat that is theirs. And Nite Versions is a straight-up non-stop remix disc, the Dewaele brothers taking their former album, Any Minute Now, and frenzy-ing it into 50 minutes of dancefloor bangers; exactly the kinds of things I’d generally be rolling my eyes at.

And surely it’s my Soulwax bias, or surely something else, but in the moment, I don’t know if I care: the duo manages to blow past all my genre-isms once again, perhaps owing to the backing of these tracks being real drums and guitars (maybe?), mixed up to instant head-bobbing catchiness, and then smoothed out in a way that seamlessly blends each song to the next, leaving plenty of differentiation between those tracks, and making the original rockers seem like they were always intended to be dancefloor mini-epics.

With a more critically-minded remix-aware ear, I could probably offer sharper insight; I could nib from the Allmusic review to criticize this as frivolous, but I dunno – Soulwax taking their own material and converting it wholly while still sounding like Soulwax is, firstly, impressive, but, secondly, calling it fleeting seems too dismissive of the Dewaele’s, whose material is often pitched with a bit of a smile, but none of it feels half-assed. Like, yes, these are rave-ups, but when Soulwax commits, they commit.

So it’s a legit remix disc. It’s a legit Soulwax album. Both are fantastic.