Daft Punk-influenced debut might just herald a new genre – Midlands-glo
The shadow of Daft Punk hangs over Wolverhampton pairing Andy Harber and Rich Roberts on this, their debut album as Letherette. The snares are crunchier than a toasted baguette. At the punch of every bass drum, you can hear Thomas Bangalter and indeed turn-of-the-century Cassius.
The first clue to something more at work comes three-and-a-half minutes into the first track, with a chord sequence worthy of a certain robotic Düsseldorf four-piece, or with their generous sampling of disco and soul. It’s not just Paris that Letherette have an eye on. It’s everything. It’s the sound of a couple of bored Midlands kids snatching what they can, dumping it into the machines, and seeing what bursts out the other end. Cut-up vocals wax and wane, especially on trademark tracks ‘D&T’ and ‘Warstones’. Sometimes it’s one groove, as on ‘I Always Wanted You Back’. Sometimes it freewheels around killer bass drops, as on ‘The One’. And with a careful push of the frequency filter, the pair brighten up the whole record with glistening ambience until it’s positively dayglo.
Which brings me to the true comparison. The fluorescent echo of Lone’s ‘Galaxy Garden’ suggests fellow Midlanders at work. Listen to the beach-bronzed ‘Gas Stations And Restaurants’ for Bibio, while the clicking insistence of ‘Hard Martha’ could be Actress; both West Midlanders. We have a scene and I’m going to call it, er, Midlands-glo. Californian beat-twister Flying Lotus oozes from Letherette’s more introspective tracks, so let’s all pretend he’s from Stourbridge, yeah?
The album works best when it lets the techno bite, Machinedrum-style, although the guitar solo of ‘D&T’ and the meandering plucking in ‘Say The Sun’ remind me of Justice’s catastrophic plummet into prog. Minor niggles aside, Ninja Tune have themselves a sparkling debut and it’s made of Letherette.