by: Vitalic

It took Vitalic's Pascal Arbez-Nicolas over four years to follow up OK Cowboy, but then he's never been a particularly speedy producer. After all, his debut album featured singles that were nearly a half-decade old by the time they appeared on the full-length. Even if Flashmob's title feels a little dated, suggesting mid-2000s trends a few years after they peaked, the same can't be said about its music. While the electro foundations of his sound remain the same after more than a decade, these tracks are sleek and innovative -- proving that Vitalic spent the years between OK Cowboy and this album uniting everything he learned making groundbreaking singles like "Poney" with what's been going on since his last album. While there are more than a few cuts that are classic Vitalic, all masses of synths and hard-edged beats (see the sunny expanses of "See the Sea [Red]" and the interstellar closer, "Station Mir 2099"), he's not afraid to change things up, most strikingly on Flashmob's singles. The title track is particularly bonkers, using vocals and synths that get higher and swifter until they blur into streaks, giving the impression of going faster and faster even though the actual beat stays rock-solid. It may be as (aptly) flashy and immediate as, say, Justice, but it also has an artfulness that is all Vitalic. He also uses disco's influence in similarly unexpected ways, permeating the album with the style's spirit rather than rehashing its clichés. "Terminateur Benelux" piles on the handclaps, cowbells, and breakdowns, but balances them with a wittily sinister bassline that borrows from Belgian rave; "Your Disco Song"'s whip-cracking beat and 8-bit synths sparkle and crunch like a shattered mirrorball. "Poison Lips" is even more unusual, transforming Vitalic's vocal program Brigitte into a breathy, glitchy Donna Summer replicant surrounded by swirling pads. He explores Flashmob's surprisingly delicate side more deeply on "Still"'s icy, Moroder-esque atmosphere and fluttering vocalizations, and on the gorgeous "Second Lives," which boasts a melody so lovely it feels like a classical piece given a radical spin on the dancefloor. Even with tracks like "Chicken Lady," which is equally kinetic and goofy, Flashmob is some of Vitalic's most artful, even subtle work. It may or may not be as profoundly influential as OK Cowboy, but it's just as engaging and even more cohesive. ~ Heather Phares

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