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The Shortwave Set - Replica Sun Machine

The Shortwave Set, Replica Sun Machine

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

YOU have to hand it to Danger Mouse. The man is prolific. Just weeks after delivering his latest album as part of Gnarls Barkley, and having recently worked with both The Black Keys and Martina Topley Bird to positive effect, he now teams up with psychedelic outfit The Shortwave Set for their sophomore album, Replica Sun Machine.

The result looks set to propel The Shortwave Set into the limelight in a major way. Danger Mouse is one of a select group of producers/artists at the moment whose presence can add several digits to the record sales of artists they collaborate with (we’re talking about people such as Timbaland, Mark Ronson and Kanye West).

Danger Mouse, though, is arguably the best of the crop because of the sheer diversity of his work. And his presence on Replica Sun Machine is very much a labour of love. The producer was a massive fan of The Shortwave Set’s debut, The Debt Collection, and so was open to easy recruitment. The partnership yields some wonderful moments.

For those that don’t know, The Shortwave Set specialise in nu-blues, new-age soul and psychedelia and they’re very much a self-made triumph. They’re slightly kooky but mostly endearing and found a lot of friends with songs like Is It Any Wonder.

But while that album struggled to break into the mainstream, Replica Sun Machine could well do so thanks to some moments that are tailor-made to appeal to a wider fanbase.

Recent single No Social, for instance, emerged as a really bright offering with the acid-bright, trippy melodies working tremendously well with the female-led vocals and surreal lyrics such as “everybody knows that a dog dressed in clothes is still a dog”.

There are other moments that prove equally easy to warm to. But this South London trio have clearly pushed the boat out to ensure that their sophomore effort extends a far wider reach. Aside from Danger Mouse, there’s also soundscapes and atmospherics from John Cale (of The Velvet Underground) and string arrangements from Van Dyke Parks (the legendary Beach Boys collaborator). It’s therefore easy to see why there’s such a radiant glow surrounding proceedings.

The strings are particularly evident on tracks like the swirling Yesterday To Come, which also trades kooky melodies with boy-girl vocals to positive effect, and the effortlessly upbeat Now Til ’69, which has to rate as one of the most sing-along friendly tracks you’re likely to hear this year. It should become an anthem of the summer.

There’s a trippy, laidback, even floaty quality about the slow-burning, Sgt Pepper-esque House Of Lies, some nicely hazy psychedelia surrounding Replica (a track that Kula Shaker would be proud to own), and a shimmering sensibility to the breezy, pop-tastic Glitches ‘N’ Bugs (a track that provokes the welcome memory of bands like Joy Zipper).

Later on, Yesterday’s To Come is another that benefits from the Van Dyke touch, its baroque strings complimenting the lush guitar licks and boy-girl vocals, while final track The Downer Song rounds things off in supremely delicious fashion, making a mockery of its title to keep the vibe positive and radiant.

Replica Sun Machine is therefore a brilliant listen that deserves to shine brightly for some time to come. It’s cleverly composed, radiates warmth and should leave listeners with a genuinely feel-good glow.

Download picks: Now Til ’69, No Social, Yesterday To Come, The Downer Song, Yesterday’s To Come, Glitches ‘N’ Bugs

Track listing:

  1. Harmonia
  2. Glitches ‘n’ Bugs
  3. Replica
  4. House Of Lies
  5. Now ‘Til ’69
  6. Distant Daze
  7. No Social
  8. Yesterdays To Come
  9. I Know
  10. Sun Machine
  11. Downer Song