Review: Dragonette – Fixin’ to Thrill

Is there anything more gratifying than having a bad feeling about an upcoming album (an electronic band talking about how “gritty” and “organic” the album will be; heightened expectaitons due to a bang-up memorable predecessor album…) and upon hearing it realizing your fears were totally unfounded? Dragonette have produced a worthy follow up to their outstanding full-length debut and it already stands out as one of the crispest, memorable albums of 2009.

The Canadian band scored previously with Galore through propulsive electro stompers with a delightfully sleazy edge and the album’s standouts, ballads like “Another Day” and “You Please Me”. The album explored dark themes including prostitution but had real cross-over success, even in the mainstream world. For a followup they have kept much of what worked for them the first time around but this time they have cleaned things up a bit. Fixin’ to Thrill is better produced, glossier, poppier, and a lot more sanitized. Gone is much of the sleaze and grime that made Galore so interesting (people will disagree on whether or not this is a good thing; Softsynth happens to like our electro on the sleazy side, but chaςon son gout…). In it’s place is a collection of 12 solid, electro-pop songs, not a bad song in the bunch, most of which will make you move to the beat so matter how hard you resist. Interestingly for all the suggestion this album would be more raw, more organic, it’s slicker than ever, and more electronic than even Galore.

One hears something of an early-80s Cars influence through much of the album, particularly on tracks like “Okay Dolory” and “Come On Be Good”. This is a good thing. Except for a couple of No Doubt tracks on Rock Steady (which were actually produced by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek) we don’t hear enough Cars-influenced music these days and it’s s shame because there is much gold to be mined there.

As on their last album, Dragonette experiment with musical styles to great effect (on Galore it was 1930’s pop and Bollywood stylings, this time a little country flavour emerges beautifully on the outstanding “Gone too Far”). But on many of the tracks they return to their roots. songs like “Stupid Grin” and “We Rule the World” are classic Dragonette – hard-hitting, electronic-bass-note-propelled love songs. And this they do very, very well.

They don’t slow things down very much and when they do it has mixed results. The best and worst tracks are the two token slower songs, the glorious, swaying “Easy” is the album’s high point, balanced by the dull, pedantic and oh-so-ordinary accoutsic guitar-based “You’re a Disaster”. But niggling aside, Dragonette may have polished up the apple a shade too much but overall they have crafted another outstanding piece of pop confection, one that stands as one of the great triumphs of ’09.

Watch: Fixin’ to Thrill

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