Given producer James Ford's reputation as the go-to guy for forward-thinking indie acts, from Arctic Monkeys and Klaxons to Peaches and Florence & The Machine, it's no surprise to find his own band's latest album littered with contributions from the likes of Beth Ditto and Gruff Rhys.
And a good thing, too, since without their personae fronting the tracks, SMD's music tends to slide into the yawning maw where faceless dancefloor fodder hunts desperately for character. In the case of "Synthesise", it's provided by a Todd Rundgren sample, while elsewhere the most effective collaboration is with Gruff Rhys on "Cream Dream", as he outlines a fantasy relationship over SMD's chattering synthesised throb. Likewise, the layered harmonies of Brooklyn girl duo Telepathe add the extra interest that saves "Pinball" from becoming another pumping techno stomp à la "Ambulance". Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor seems right at home with the electro shuffle "Bad Blood", but one expected more from Jamie Lidell on the chuntering "Off The Map", which fails to live up to the Kraftwerk/James Brown crossover promised by the lyrics. The sorriest squandering of talent, though, is Beth Ditto's ill-fitting incarnation as disco diva on "Cruel Intentions", which ignores her obvious strengths.
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