Shooting people, time travelling and coining really cool catchphrases: the life of a T-800 model is tough. Every now and then they just need to relax, pick up a pina colada and let off a bit of steam. It’s not easy being a robot you know - just ask C-3PO the next time you see him.
But what music would soundtrack a robot shindig? Kenny Rodgers? Pere Ubu perhaps? Slint? Not a chance. It would have to be something electronic. Something sinister. Something like Swisher. Blondes’ second album is the perfect robot party record. It’s full of electronic crumbles and ice cold synths that are so inhuman they almost seem human... a bit like a Terminator actually.
‘Poland’ has a splendidly squelchy pulse that any self-respecting cyborg would love. It builds and builds and builds, without ever really dropping. Which is nice, because bass drops are so 2010 - it’s all about locking yourself underneath the groove nowadays, which is something Blondes do effortlessly. A wise man on a car advert once said that traveling is all about the journey and not the destination, that’s certainly the case here.
Because of this it’s hard to label Blondes as anything other than a dance act, but doing that sells them incredibly short. The moodier, late night numbers such as ‘Bora Bora’ and ‘Wire’ show that they are so much more than your average house duo. These songs take the record far from bog-standard euphoria, in an almost apocalyptic direction. Which is - come to think of it - why robots would probably enjoy it so much, because that’s what robots really want isn’t it? The apocalypse. The swines.
That’s not to say Swisher’s slightly - and I mean very slightly - happier moments are weak. ‘Rei’ shimmers majestically, like a misplaced Werther’s Original wrapper rolling in the wind on a sunny summer’s day. The track bumps along at pace whilst slyly revealing a hypnotising groove that makes you want to crawl around and pretend it’s the future. It’s the sort of track you think would go down well at a house party.
‘Swisher’ welds together both sides of the group, creating a moody euphoria one synth pump at a time. Like the rest of the record, the track has a depth that some electronic music lacks, each listen reveals something new: a new sound, a new groove, a new beat; showing just how complex these robotic compositions really are.
As with many dance LPs, Swisher is slightly on the long side - 65 minutes is more than enough time to get your groove on. But the album never ends up sounding repetitive, the emotions behind the beats don’t allow it to. You can feel something real behind the music - slightly distant, but it’s there, somewhere.
Like the Terminator franchise, I can’t see Blondes disappearing any time soon. But if they ever fall on hard times, there’ll always be the robot party gigs. I’ve heard they pay well.
8Jack Doherty's Score