Young Aspiring Professionals, 2009

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Talking Heads is dead. For the fans, the glory days of this band can only be relived through the music of newer acts influenced by them. As aficionados of ‘80s New Wave music would attest, experiencing your beloved music of yesteryear through the lens of a new generation of musicians isn’t such a bad thing afterall. There is no doubt that almost all indie bands of today are influenced by Talking Heads to some degree or other, but no band exhibits this influence as openly as Datarock. And for the delight of Talking Heads fans, Datarock makes some pretty awesome music.

Datarock’s debut Datarock Datarock had some Talking Heads influences, but none as blatant as on their follow-up, Red. This album shows this Norwegian band’s love for Talking Heads totally unabashedly. In the group’s usual witty songwriting sense comes the ultimate and quite brilliant tribute, “True Stories,” a track featuring lyrics full of Talking Heads song titles.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band’s absurdist humor from their previous record is still in full force on this record. Take the wacky lyrics “Used to be a Mayan, now I am a Republican” from “The Pretender.” Or the random references to a-ha’s “Take On Me,” David Bowie’s “Changes,” Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight,” and At the Drive-In’s “One Armed Scissor,” all in the song “Amarillion.” Or take The Smiths song “Fear Of Death” that was never written by The Smiths but by Datarock, but interpreted and sung as a cover version, as if the song was originally written by Morrissey. The ultimate farce however, is “Molly,” an almost creepy tribute to Molly Ringwald, sung with utmost conviction and sincerity as if the band was singing a tribute to some serious political activist.

The thing about Datarock’s humor is that their quirkiness and parodical nature rivals that of someone like “Weird Al” Yankovic, but there is nothing jocular about the music, which is made up of superbly crafted pop songs. The album opening and closing cuts “The Blog” and “New Days Dawn,” respectively, are good examples of the many interesting musical flavors of this album (much like the previous record). “The Blog” is a tight dance punk track consisting of a barrage of soundbytes from the media about the Internet hurled in a frenzied pace. In contrast, “New Days Dawn” has a slow and relaxed old-timey jazz vibe.

Red is definitely not as bold and adventurous as its predecessor; and because of this, it is not that great of an album as Datarock Datarock. But it doesn’t mean that one should have their expectations diminished. Red is positively made of the same DNA as Datarock Datarock. In fact, these albums are like twins that talk and look almost alike; the only difference is that Red is the less charismatic of the siblings.

Rating: B+

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