Because good music journalism is a dying artform – or, depending on your politics, alive and kicking – I asked a small group of hardcore, unforgiving music nerds to review Role-play, my debut LP. I imposed no word limit, but did request an objective opinion. The following critique, which has not been manipulated or edited in any way, is part of a pending batch of reviews. I’ll be publishing all of them in the following weeks.
As a former long-time employee of Amoeba Music, the “worlds largest independent music store,” M. Nero Nava more than qualifies as the quintessential record store nerd (yes, the High Fidelity type). Nava, however, is more Rudolph Valentino than Jack Black. A carefully stylish, opinionated, and cultured man with sharp — and often polarizing — critiques, it was his discerning taste that got him a job as an art director for Rob Nilsson. Of course, Nero is also a great musician, and one can hear him crooning sweet vocals for both City of Women and Barbasteel.
M. Nero Nava reviews P3CULIAR’s Role-play
By M. Nero Nava
Contrary to P3CULIAR’s pledge to approach music with “soulless instruments” — what we have is an interesting electro/club/pop record full of life and body. Even with all of it’s chirps, blips, bleeps, and 1’s and 0’s — I felt movement and life. It’s wall to wall with tunes gleaming for licensing and all that other 21st century stuff.
I was recently at a nightclub and found the music perplexing and shifty. The club songs were chopped, tempo jumping, and void of mood. Everything was in such in a hurry. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the DJ, but it seems as if that’s where club music (dance music) is going/at. I never found myself lost on the dance floor.
One of the key — and often maligned — ingredients of dance music is the repetition of the music/beat. P3CULIAR manages to stay current, but stay steadfast in understanding the ingredients to a great night on a sticky, sweaty dance floor. Truly, this album has me craving a buzz and a dark, packed, dance floor. There is muscle and sweat behind the machines.
Now, I’m not one for spacey vocal effects, or robots singing while my body submits to carnality, and this album is filled to the brim with computer-rubbed vocals. Songs like “Look So Good” and “The Well” work though. Again, the mood is so measured, so pitch perfect that you enjoy those “soulless” vocal arrangements.
“Menea” is a favorite of mine (great video too). Shit, I even dig the rap. To you gringos who have never enjoyed a predominantly Latin clientele strip joint — “Menea” is a word I learned at one of those joints. Listen to the song, you’ll figure it out. This is a great genre song. And never once does it feel contrived or bogus. After I heard this “Menea” the first time I found myself checking my jacket for my wallet. It takes you to that place.
P3CULIAR has gone to the dry, dead well of club music and managed to find the life of dance/pop records. It’s never laptoppy — the production is stellar — and it really can be a one stop party. All the ingredients are there for a great night at the club; Role-play is naughty, clean, dirty, melodic, flirty and pushy.
I highly recommend it for a party, a lover, a date, or a stranger.
M. Nero Nava