Four years between records can feel like a long time and four years is like sixteen (or something) in house music years. It’s been almost exactly that length of time since Digitalism released their debut Idealism. Their first album was more than a modest success—the duo (comprised of İsmail Tüfekçi and Jens Moelle) made a big splash in the indie dance music world, suddenly finding themselves on equal footing with contemporaries like Hot Chip, Van She and The Presets. In fact, the only other indie dance record that had as good a debut that year was Justice‘s †.
All that said, Idealism was a heck of a record, very much worthy of the praise and following that it gathered. The fifteen song set of housey-electro, presented with a strong, beefy rock influence and structure, was designed for crowd pleasing. However, Idealism had a number of wrinkles to help distinguish the group from some of the competition. The tracks had a lot more punch then some of their other more fey contemporaries, and the duo’s love of Daft Punk came off as charming and celebratory rather than derivative. While the group was relatively quiet during the stretch between albums, they always had their assured, confident debut to build a reputation on.
Digitalism – 2 Hearts from White Rabbit tv on Vimeo.
It looks like Digitalism are trying to keep the magic alive on I Love You, Dude. And they have a great shot the second time around as the record doesn’t suffer from the so-called “sophomore slump” that plagues so many promising bands. The record kicks off with “Stratosphere”, one of a couple of tracks on the album that could easily have been slotted into their previous record. The most obvious trait of the record is tracks like these—”2 Hearts”, “Blitz” and “Forrest Gump”—are sonically in line with songs from their first record like “Pogo” and “Idealistic”. It’s these tracks, this style, the Digitalism we’re familiar with, that make up the front half of the record.
While their sound is still recognizably “theirs”, they’ve both streamlined their attack and tried to expand their oeuvre. An undercurrent of melancholy populated Idealism with high energy tracks like “Echoes” and “Moonlight” bearing some kind of emotional weight. That same melancholy is still present in much of I Love You, Dude, but the group presents it in a more nuanced fashion. The interesting development is that the group is now producing tracks that sound like they could narrate the fight scenes for a flashy big budget action movie. “Miami Showdown”, a late record highlight, moves with a lot of swagger and “Reeperbahn” feels like a throwback ’90s big beat track that packs a serious left hook.
Still, despite the growth and time between records, Digitalism have kept their rockist core intact. Digitalism worked with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas on “Forrest Gump” and the pedigree of both acts makes the union work. An indie dance band who treats their synths like guitars getting it on with a rock ‘n’ roller with an electronic music fetish? Hey, it works.
Forrest Gump by digitalism_official
The energy that Jens and İsmail bring to I Love You, Dude give a kick to some of the best tracks on the record. “Blitz” proves itself worthy of its title, relentlessly and playfully circling around an upbeat synth riff. “Encore” the last track on the record, holds the line steadily as it builds to a final crescendo to close out the record. While not all of the group’s diversions are as successful as this—”Antibiotics” stab at rave house could’ve been more fully realized and “Just Gazin”, while an admirable attempt at effeverscent, pretty synthpop, feels out of place compared to the rest of the record—I Love You, Dude stands as a strong, unified statement. With songs that are sure to frenzy the crowd when the group headlines the summer HARD fest this year and tracks that’ll appeal to the bedroom headnodders, Digitalism has a little something for everyone.