Simian Mobile Disco

Simian Mobile Disco is all about the synthesizer, to the point of naming their debut album after one of its parts, the ASDR envelope. The tracks on “Attack Sustain Decay Release” are electronic to the point of occasionally sounding like four-minute monologues by R2-D2. Condensing Simian Mobile Disco’s repertoire from hundreds of songs and mixes into forty minutes simultaneously highlights flaws in the duo’s music and leaves the listener feeling cheated.

Simian Mobile Disco, composed of James Ford and Anthony Shaw, is a production and remix team who broke from the “electronically enhanced psychedelic folk band” Simian on a US summer tour in 2005. Leaving behind the rock elements of Simian, Simian Mobile Disco is more pop and dance-oriented, and do DJ sets with other groups like Justice. Shaw and Ford dropped a number of singles and did notable remixes of bands like Air, Muse, and The Go! Team before the release of “Attack Sustain Decay Release.”

(More after the jump)Simian Mobile Disco falls into a set of electronic groups, like the Klaxons, Justice and Daft Punk, who spend much of their time – and are most in their element when –performing live. But while the group leaves in some instrumental mistakes to give the illusion of a more organic, less removed listening experience, “Attack Sustain Decay Release” sounds unfinished.

The album captures none of the on-stage spontaneity or energy of a DJ set. The beats are mid-range, with no changes in tempo and few dynamic changes. Listening to some of the tracks is like zoning out in class and refocusing ten minutes later to discover nothing has happened. The left-in human errors and overly stylized tracks instead come off as lack of interest in making an at all album or adding depth to the tracks. “Attack Sustain Decay Release” seems to exist simply for the sake of Simian Mobile Disco having an album.

Although a few tracks, like “Hustler” and “I Believe” break the monotony, it is due to the guest vocalists. On “Hustler,” a reduction from a 45-minute freestyle, rapper Char Jackson half chants, half sings about stealing albums from record stores and distracts from the dull thumps backing her. “I Believe” is a nod to a former Simian band mate, who provides the penetrating, otherworldly vocals over the catchiest bass line and synth riff of the entire album.

The lesson from “Attack Sustain Decay Release” seems to be that the ultimate answer for every DJ or group is not to release an album.

Listen to Simian Mobile Disco at