This Real Experts article was written by Sam Mawdsley, a Gigsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson. Lead photo by Absent Kelly
After an electric debut in March with ‘Lemon Is Lemon’, Real Experts have managed to craft a sleek, multi-layered album that gives you newness by dressing up in old music’s clothes.
It’s not the tired charade it could have been – just a love letter to the end of the 20th century, and once you’ve gotten over the fact that this is an homage to an homage to an homage and have fun, it’s a very listenable album.
It opens with Daniel Angelus’s melodramatic whispering, before kicking in with sassy club thumper, ‘Disco Tears’. It’s obscenely catchy, and listening to it is like a night out – you’ll have a riot at the time but there’s a cauldron of headache and shame brewing that you’ll feel afterwards. Luckily ‘Sugar Rush’ sees you through this with cosy piano chords and low-bit synths from ‘90s videogames.
It has to be said that a lot of the lyrics sound like they’ve been scavenged from ‘80s drag acts. It’s probably ironic, but whether that makes it okay is a matter of opinion.
‘Pure Attention Seeker’ sounds like someone asked Talk Talk to do their version of ‘Theme From Shaft’. It’s good though, and thirty years ago it could have been a charting song. A friend of a friend must have rooted through Philip Bailey’s bin back in 1984 and kept the rejected lines from ‘Easy Lover’, but that’s been the story on every song so far.
If you were wondering what Kajagoogoo is doing these days, they’ve written a song called ‘Don’t Stay’ and it has a guest spot on ‘The Trade Off’. It has potential, but the catchiest parts remain unexplored.
There’s some unfortunate hip-thrusting implied in the delivery of ‘Swoon’, but if you weren’t prepared for it at this point in the album it’s your own fault, you were warned from the start. Regardless, it’ll hook you and it stands up to repeated listening.
A real highlight is ‘She Hurts’, an Elton John-esque ballad where you’re given time to appreciate the jazzy chords and Mike Burnett’s voice. At first you think it’s the ‘Sensitive Female’ chord progression you’ve heard a million times, but then it goes to A-flat major-7 like it’s nothing and you feel like you’re breathing fresh air for the first time. Yes the lyrics are cheesy, but this is really good French cheese that’s just misunderstood because of it’s colour. It could have been written by one of the greats, and while there’s no ‘wow’ moment in the vocals, there’s still soul there and a lovely tone.
After the dark and dreamy ‘Space Age Love Song’, ‘Ratio 3:1’ hits you with some Grandmaster Flash, Talking Heads, and a lot of Michael Jackson’s ‘Jam’. Once you’ve gotten over the contrast from the previous song, it’s a slick, funky bop.
If you miss electro pop you’ll enjoy this nude portrait of it, just make sure you give the ballads a chance because there are some real gems here.
‘The Trade Off’ is out now via Black Towers Records