by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Blue and green optical illusion

Discovery - "It's Not My Fault (It's My Fault)". Discovery's debut album, LP, initially appears to be a masterpiece. Its surges, snaps and blips press all my juicy summer buttons, recalling Len, Miracle Fortress and (inevitably) Daft Punk's Discovery. But this enchanted team-up between Vampire Weekend's secret genius Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles is utterly undone by Miles's vocals. Many songs wither under repeated listens, or in some cases even under first listens - because while Miles at different times recalls everyone from Harry Nilsson to Antony to to Kevin Barnes (Of Montreal) to Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie), he always sounds like a twerp. A song like "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" is an R&B pop marvel - that loses every bit of sizzle in its anemic verses. I'm certain this is an issue of choice, not of talent, but it's a fatal misstep. Irony does not trump sincerity, here. (See: R. Kelly.) Discovery's delicious, AutoTune-strewn cover of the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" becomes nearly unlistenable as MJ's liberated sing is replaced with Miles's nerd croon. I become physically sad when I imagine what these jubilant chemical productions could be, with someone else's voice on top - imagine Jay-Z, Bjork, Sam Cooke, Jay Reatard surfing these songs' lead edges, all strut and bling. (And as much as I like Ezra Koenig within the context of Vampire Weekend, he is not the answer.)

Nevertheless, rejoice!, rejoice!, on "It's Not My Fault", the song works, the whole song works - dancefloor-smooved, with kevlar snaps and testtube bells. Miles (allegedly sharing vocals with Batmanglij) sand your edges, clear your heart for debris, leave you soapstone-smooth and ready for the June-time glitter. The song's wry, faux-frustration reminds me of a series of cold drinks on a hot terrasse, julep after julep, and every time my girlfriend brings me another I just spill it out on the sidewalk, watch the caterpillars crawl across the icecubes.

[website/MySpace - write and hire them for your mega-major-label hip-hop/pop/r&b project, to make me happy]

The Lifted Brow's Ronnie Scott has interviewed Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes) for MBV. It's a great, funny conversation, fuel for Mercer-crushes, yes. "My wife loves Devin the Dude. My father made her a mixed CD of his greatest hits for her birthday. Whatever bauble I had purchased her paled in comparison to this sonic gift."

You have until Sunday to enter our Royal City contest!

(A note on the optical illusion above: what look like blue and green spirals are in fact spirals of the same colour! Yes! Believe it! I checked!)

Posted by Sean at June 25, 2009 4:25 PM

weird, from what i can tell i like discovery alot more than vampire weekend, and a big reason for that IS the vocals! also can you explain the optical illusion?

Posted by sam at June 25, 2009 5:01 PM

Rostam sings the verses, Wes sings the choruses of this song

Posted by tim at June 25, 2009 7:00 PM

i think the production is very good at times, just OK at others. this album was never going to be a masterpiece. but its not the fault of wes. his voice is pretty swell.

Posted by peabo at June 25, 2009 10:04 PM

Sam - What do you mean, 'explain the illusion'? Explain how it works? Um, I don't know! Any illusionists in the house?

Tim - Thank you for this info! Post updated.

Peabo - I have nothing against Wes's voice; he is great in Ra Ra Riot. But oh god totally disagree - this record could be so so so so great with someone a little more swagger up in that mic.

Posted by Sean at June 26, 2009 12:50 AM

haha no, i mean HOW CAN THOSE BE TWO DIFFERENT COLOURS? if they are not blue and green respectively what colour are they? how did you check? also do you like the song "so insane?"

Posted by sam at June 26, 2009 3:54 AM

i love this piece ! thanks for sharing ..

Posted by Kasia Znana at June 26, 2009 9:21 AM

I'm sure it'll come as no surprise to you that I took an immediate and strong dislike to Discovery (even before I knew who they were). But, as always, I appreciate your fair-mindedness and willingness to wade through the chaff to find the wheat (and use beautiful words to do it).

Posted by Amy at June 26, 2009 11:53 AM

I'm impressed that you wrote this whole review with no mention of Hot Chip, to whom they seem most indebted on this track.

Posted by mark at June 26, 2009 12:57 PM

I didn't mean that as a back-handed compliment, by the way. The internet makes us seems like real jerks some times.

Posted by mark at June 26, 2009 3:07 PM

I agree with the comment about Hot Chip, sounds very like their last album. Plus I didn't mind the vocals on this, not AMAZING, yet still likeable.

If I heard JAY-Z singing on this I'd have to turn it off, actualy, whenever I hear JAY-Z singing I want to scrape my ears out with spoons.

Overall, nice mellow tune. Less of the JAY-Z rubbish.

Posted by Vincent at June 30, 2009 5:23 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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