- The Cologne-based duo of George Conrad and Marius Bubat, AKA COMA, complain about the restraints of making music purely for the floor. "We decided to do a pop album about club culture" they said about In Technicolor, their debut album. I shudder a little when I hear this kind of talk, simply because at this stage, that very dichotomy between the dance floor and pop is a false one. What matters is not whether a production works in a particular physical or metaphorical space, but how it could work the space.
In Technicolor spends a fair bit of its time trying to straddle those spaces, to varying degrees of success. COMA's approach to sound and structure is smart—they're always savvy enough to know when to lift things to the next level. "Maybach" has a fantastic disco key-change that pulls the breath from your chest. Similarly touched by disco, "Cycle" spins on a simple clap-and-arpeggio pattern which slowly mutates, part Mororder groove, part electro strip-lighting.
But they don't always get it right. The latino percussion in "Missing Piece" is submerged too deeply in the mix—moments of character like this need to be foregrounded, not painted into a corner. Sometimes you hear their indie roots a little too clearly. "Les Dilettantes" recalls New Order, riding a Peter Hook bassline, while ringing synths drip melody across the surface. But the vocals on this one aren't strong enough, a problem through much of the record: for a pop album, the singing is pretty insubstantial. The single "My Orbit" suffers a similar fate—it starts regal and majestic, but perfunctory vox bring it crashing to Earth. Tellingly, when COMA focus on the floor near the end, as they do on "maximal MINIMAL," they really nail it. As a result, the final quarter of the album significantly elevates the whole.
In Technicolor is a hard one to figure out. Too much of the album feels restrained, unable to truly revel in the bliss of melody. There's also nothing here quite as compelling as their earlier EPs, where songs like "Raindrops" stretched out to an eternity, lovely and languorous. In the end I spent much of my time with the album willing the duo to just go for it and have a truly pop moment.
04. Les Dilettantes
05. Missing Piece
07. Out Of Control
08. My Orbit
09. The Great Escape
10. maximal MINIMAL