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Happiness V Sadness

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Album Review

With their backstory of meeting at a Le Tigre gig, appearances in cult comedy The Mighty Boosh, and their hipster/riot grrrl image, '80s revivalists Dee Plume and Sue Denim, aka Robots in Disguise, might like to think they're channeling the spirit of various post-punk icons. But their fourth album, Happiness vs. Sadness' constant flitting between childlike exuberance and self-conscious detachment means they have more in common with the likes of early Bananarama, Toyah, and Bow Wow Wow than the more credible Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux. Not that there's anything wrong with being compared to lesser celebrated luminaries, but you get the feeling it's not quite the angle the duo were aiming for. Nevertheless, it's when they fully embrace their poppier leanings that their D.I.Y. electro-clash sound comes together, as on the alternative Olympics theme, "I'm a Winner," which combines enchanting Sesame Street-style phonics with vintage rock & roll percussion and spiky indie guitars; the playful Ting Tings-esque art pop of "Chains," a charming back and forth, ABC-style singalong about how past relationships link us together, and the Parklife-era Blur-styled guitars and new wave harmonies of the swaggering "Don't Go." The follow-up to We're in the Music Biz comes unstuck when David Alexander (Yo! Majesty) and Tim Holmes' (Death in Vegas) production allows the pair's hyperactive jamming to roam free, as the discordant guitars and meandering vocals on the sub-CSS "Hey Whatcha Say," the lack of memorable hooks on the drum‘n'bass-tinged title track, and the stream-of-consciousness lyrics on the minimal electro of "Sorry" make it seem like the pair are making things up on the spot. Happiness vs. Sadness' bold and chaotic energy is both a welcome contrast to the calculated, icy synth pop of their fellow '80s throwbacks, and a hindrance to producing anything approaching cohesiveness, but there's enough potential here to suggest if they can just ditch their attempt to be cooler than cool, they could find the breakthrough they desire. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi


Formed: 2000 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

A not so atypical ironically tinged electro outfit out of Liverpool, Robots In Disguise formed in 2000. Once featured as extras in the program The Mighty Boosh, members Dee Plume (vocals and guitar) and Sue Denim (vocals and bass guitar) released their first product, the EP Mix Up Words and Sounds, the year of their formation, and followed it up with the debut album, Robots In Disguise, in 2001. The group only managed a pair of singles after that, taking a bit longer to get their follow up to the...
Full bio
Happiness V Sadness, Robots In Disguise
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  • 9,90 €
  • Genres: Electronic, Music, Rock, Pop
  • Released: 05 September 2011

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