- Back in house music's early days, it was common practice for European producers to use pseudonyms in order to be mistaken for natives of Detroit or Chicago. This in mind, you could say that Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets' calling themselves Detroit Swindle has the virtue of honesty, if it's not just a joke. For if you weren't aware that early singles like 2012's Guess What were the work of two blokes from Amsterdam, you could easily think they were the output of Derrick Carter, Kenny Dope or any of the other American artists the duo obviously revere.
It's not a name everyone finds funny, though: Dales and Smeets admit they've sparked message board debates about the ethics of cultural appropriation. Even if you ignore the politics, Detroit Swindle's debut album raises issues of authenticity in a purely musical sense, particularly the vocal tracks. Mayer Hawthorne has made a career out of emulating Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, something he repeats here on the Soul Clap-style house of "64 Ways." Hawthorne begins by talking about his "alligator shoes," and while the track is as stylish as that suggests, both he and Detroit Swindle are dressing up in borrowed clothes here. "Thoughts Of She," meanwhile, samples so much of Alice Russell's vocal from Quantic Soul Orchestra's "Pushing On" that it's really more of a remix than an original track.
If it's flawless photocopies of US house you're after, the bumping beats, jazzy flourishes, cut-up vocals and liberal filter abuse on tracks like "Me, Myself And You" will hit the spot. But even if these tracks raise a sweat on the dance floor, Detroit Swindle clearly haven't thought of anything very fresh. "Huh, What?" is undeniably sturdy club fodder, but it could have been assembled straight from a flatpack of standard house staples (claps, stabs and a well-worn "work" sample). Listening to midtempo shuffler "B.Y.O" merely reminds you that Moodymann has a new album out.
Because let's face it: if you were going to buy just one Detroit-inspired house LP anytime soon, Boxed Out is unlikely to be it. Then again, if you've got space for one more, and aren't too bothered about getting the real thing, Detroit Swindle won't leave you feeling ripped off.
02. 64 Ways feat. Mayer Hawthorne
03. Me, Myself And You
04. Thoughts Of She
05. Monkey Wrench
07. Center Of Gravity feat. Sandra Amarie
08. For The Love Of...
09. The Fat Rat
10. He's Just This Guy, You Know?
11. Huh, What!
13. You, Me, Here, Now