Republic / Universal Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/27/2000
If you own a radio - and chances are excellent you do - you've been exposed to Eiffel 65's quirky little hit "Blue (Da Ba Dee)". If you're like me, the first few times you heard it, it quickly made you want to vomit.
But there's something that this Italian trio knows about light pop music - and how they can write something incredibly infectious. That's the case with their debut disc Europop, which does have songs on it that will be hard to get out of your brain once you've heard them. However, one has to question whether or not this group has any staying power.
Okay, now that I've completely slammed "Blue (Da Ba Dee)", let me quickly backpedal... and say that after forcing myself to sit and listen to the song a few times, it got to the point where I'm walking around the apartment singing the song's bouncy chorus (and wrecking my three-year-old's nerves in the process). I gotta admit: I'm hooked.
The obvious next single (seeing it's already been released as such overseas) is the equally infectious "Move Your Body," a track that is even better than "Blue," if some of you can believe that. It's got a perfect dance rhythm and track, as well as a chorus that you'll be remembering for days after you hear the song - even after one listen. If Eiffel 65 wants to erase the tag of "one-hit wonder" that some people are hanging on them, all they have to do is release this 40-megaton dance warhead.
The key to both these songs is the use of the voice synthesizer, something that vocalist Jeffrey Jey, keyboardist Maurizio Lobina and dj/mixer Gabry Ponte utilize for most of Europop. But therein lies their fatal flaw - namely, overdependance on this otherwise useful tool. It was interesting when Cher used it on "Believe"; it's interesting to hear on "Blue" and "Move Your Body". But when they use it on almost every damned song, it becomes similar to a joke a child learns and tells ad infinitum. After you've heard it for the 100th time, you want to deep-six it... the joke, that is.
What's interesting is that the one song that doesn't use the voice synthesizer (or at least uses it to a point where I didn't recognize it), "Your Clown," is arguably the best work that Eiffel 65 does. Cut from the same mold as classic Depeche Mode, the band combines powerful songwriting and an outstanding vocal performance to create a track that comes out from left field and levels you. It's a great feeling, and is one that is meant to be shared.
While the bulk of Europop is enjoyable, it bothers me that there is a lack of original thought that permeates the album. When it is utilized, as on "Your Clown," the results are stupendous. But if Eiffel 65 wants to remain a force in this notoriously fickle genre (think back - when was the last time you heard from Snow? 'Nuff said.), they need to expand their horizons past a synthesized vocal piece.
Europop is the kind of album that is a guilty pleasure, and even if you stand there (as I once did) and declare you hate that "Da Ba Dee" song, after just one listen to this disc you might be willing to say that there's more to this band. Here's hoping they can prove me right on their next release.