Ever since I had heard the Electronicat cover of Tainted Love done electro French style (called Amour Salé, and also included here) on the French Sounds compilation and the Electronicat remix version of the Shinto song Kieren, I'd been looking forward to the Electronicat album.
21st Century Toy lives up to my own self-created hype, and it has become one of my own personal favorite albums this year. Electronicat's Fred Bigot is not new to the electronic music scene which I think helps him remain consistent and interesting without sacrificing to a music scene which is fickle and everchanging.
Collaborating with other great artists like Gerhard Potuznik (a pioneer in the electro sound for years) and Catriona Shaw (from the fake-identity supergroup the Queen Of Japan - she can add a dreaminess or a riot grrl sound equally as well) pushes this album to new heights. I can't compare 21st Century Toy to earlier Electronicat albums (and there are a few), but from what I have heard, I can be quite sure that Electronicat has been cutting his teeth on electronic and guitar sounds for a few years now. This has come to fruition on this most recent album.
The Electronicat sound is somewhat unique for the electro movement: Electronicat songs have a big, fat electronic synth bass sound which is usually quite prominent in just about every song. This often puts the rhythm in the backseat and is quite a changeup from typical electronic music. Once you get used to that bass sound, it's great to crank up the music and hear that bass rumble from your speakers. It doesn't stop there though - because there are also guitars - often with a rockabilly or glam (a la T. Rex) sound to them. I'm not sure how these songs would sound in a club but honestly most of this album is not really club-ready thanks to the addition of the guitars and subtle variations to the arrangements which only someone experienced in the scene would be able to pull off.
The first song which struck me right off was Frisco Bay. This song would've sounded right at home on any of many compilations like Northern Electronic or French Sounds - and if it hasn't been compiled somewhere, needs to be soon. This is a really hot, addictive tune with male/female screamed chorus and and upbeat rhythm complimented by Love and Rockets styled strummed electronic guitars.
Experience is an extended workout which starts out with a pulsing synth bass and varied abstract vocals and electronics that mutates into an electro/prog rock fest. A really fascinating cut that grows as it goes.
Whenever You Want is a dreamy cut with Catriona Shaw vocals and reminds me of when FC Kahuna cut loose in a mellow mood. What Electronicat lacks in interesting rhythms, is made up for in dreamy synths mixed with the female vocals of Catriona Shaw.
I'm a sucker for bass synth led instrumentals and Sauterelle is just that - starting out with the sounds of the streets of Paris, a pulsing synth soon joins the ranks along with the motorik rhythm.
I'm glad that Amour Salé (Tainted Love) is included on the 21st Century Toy album because groups haven't always included their best songs they've released previously on compilations (Fat Truckers, anyone?) - so even though I'd grown tired of this song, I'm glad it's included (almost as an after thought) as the last track.