- For The Juan MacLean's return to the 12-inch arena after some serious DJing and live work, he opened with March single "Happy House," a Nancy Whang-sung track that lived up to its carefree title. And while "The Simple Life" doesn't quite belie its name, it is a bit sneaky. You think you've got the plot as the first four minutes develop—a simmer of several entrancing synth lines, a solid, unassuming beat, an extremely nuggety break and the usual hefty dollop of futurism.
But then abruptly, in comes the vocal—another one by Whang—and it's crisp and it's clean and it's suddenly OK to smile about the '80s again. Then the Juan himself shows up, and he and the Whang are trading verses. Juan's great man-boy-child vocal recalls Bobby O's similarly unaffected outings, completely lacking in pretension, perfectly delighted just to be here and wrangle a few extra "oooo"s out of the word "do." More significantly, Juan's nimble humility serves as the perfect foil for Whang's own sparkling, innocuous gaiety. Unlike her background-dwelling work with LCD Soundsystem, her input here seems loads more crucial, enriching the dynamic with the kind of charming, brittle humanity that always seemed to peek around the edges of the Juan MacLean's prior work.
Marcus Worgull turns up for remix duties on the B-side, and wisely avoids toying with the strong duet form of the original, focusing instead on the shimmering feel of the intro and inserting a few fx-laden vocal drops to remind us just which jam this is. Much more laidback and rooted to the pulsing, present moment than the A-side, it's nice enough, but ultimately can't compete with the original's whomping Italo-punch and coy vocals. Clearly, the time spent catering to the dancers for Juan seems to have paid off: There's a bright, sharp new luster to that worn old mask.
A The Simple Life
B The Simple Life (Marcus Worgull Rmx)