|唱片专辑：||Replica Sun Machine|
|歌曲标签：||Harmonia,Replica Sun Machine,Shortwave Set|
Why would someone want a replica sun machine, when we have a real sun, which is completely free to use? The Shortwave Set don’t care about practical questions such as this, of course– they’re fine with their LP title being a fancy, six-syllable way to say “lamp.” A second question arises, then: Why make things so unnecessarily complicated, and then be coy about it? It’s semantics, sure, but also a useful way to think about the group and their latest album. Replica Sun Machine is an exceedingly simple thing– with tunes so familiar-feeling to be easily ignorable– but it’s presented with a false sense of intricacy, gussied up and disguised as something more than it really is. Now, the important question: Is it any wonder that Danger Mouse signed on to produce it?
The Shortwave Set and Danger Mouse have a lot in common: They’re both highly competent at what they do– artfully, but not flashily, recombining recognizable music and cultural signifiers into pleasing new shapes. And like the technologies that the Set are enamored of, when they do their jobs really well, they just disappear. Take “Now ’til ’69”, for example, which operates in the same careful nostalgic register as a PT Cruiser, right down to its last “be bop a lula” and Jerry Lee Lewis piano pound. It sounds positively huge and incredibly clean, like a well-funded local theater putting on a “rock’n’roll” revue, and that’s the prevailing tone of the album: Everything feels factory-stamped, looked over by Inspector #22, and mostly bereft of any humanity whatsoever. There’s a reason that “Glitches ‘N’ Bugs” sounds so nostalgic, after all: Those things are ironed out well in advance of the shipping date.
And that’s the rub with Replica. The Shortwave Set fetishize the leftovers of 20th century consumer culture, but while adopting the same generic approach toward musical style. The waltz-time refrain from “Distant Daze”, surrounded by lustrous piano, fuzzed-out guitars and 1950s sci-fi sound effects, could be the Set’s “Statement of Principles”, tacked to the bulletin board next to their assembly line: “Long lost distant days/ I don’t quite remember you.” “House of Lies” could pass for lost late 60s John Lennon demos, unearthed and Martinized into a new shape. And let’s face it: opening track “Harmonia” sounds like whatever Jeff Lynne did to “Free as a Bird” for the Beatles Anthology. I’m not sure what other sorts of replica sun machines the Shortwave Set have produced in the past, but most of the current album is about as functional and inviting as fluorescent track lighting.
But what if, I thought to myself a few times while listening to Replica, the Shortwave Set are totally in on the joke? What if the widgets they’ve made are self-aware, and fully cognizant that this whole thing is just a big piss-take, like the goofy promo pics Danger Mouse and Cee-Loo took to plug St. Elsewhere? At the least, they’d sure like us to think they know exactly what they’re doing, or so they carefully telegraph on “I Know”: “We make our music always off-key/ It’s twisted and it’s wrong, some kind of junk symphony.” But don’t be fooled: Like the careful shopper at the antique store, if you scrape the paint with your thumbnail, you’ll find an Oster logo underneath.