As an artist, it’s natural to want to grow and transform your output. There isn’t anything quite like the satisfaction of knowing you’ve topped yourself. Employing the loosest sense of the word, this pertains to Digitalism’s man-childish I Love You Dude, their second full-length and first in four years. Unfortunately, the German duo have expanded their sound into several areas that don’t really need another mediocre go-around. They sacrifice the energy that made Idealism such a dance floor clusterfuck for something bigger and shinier, it’s a shameless move for the masses with no real return.
Now there’s nothing wrong with this type of career move in principle, but aside from their ambition they bring almost nothing to the table. They borrow from superior acts throughout, and the recycled ideas aren’t utilized in a particularly interesting manner. “Reeperbahn” sounds like a cheap Vitalic knock-off, and “Miami Showdown” is dubstep-lite that sounds primed to soundtrack any number of mindless summer action films. “I’m caught up in a never ending circle,” warbles Jens Moelle on “Circle.” Just three tracks in, I was having similar thoughts.
It doesn’t start well, either. Opener “Stratosphere” drags its feet, as if not quite ready to prepare the listener for the endurance test to come. It does nothing to grab your attention, and it’s probably only danceable if you’ve taken horse tranquilizers. When things finally get rolling, there are a few bright spots: “Blitz” is a well-arranged, old-fashioned banger that drops at just the right time and “Antibiotics” is kinetic club music, but your patience will be tested in other places.
While the record does have its fair share of instrumental tracks, you kind of wish that is all there was. The vocals on “2 Hearts” meander, with flimsy lyrics delivered with such a lack of enthusiasm you wonder why they bothered: “These two hearts won’t make it last/That’s okay/Because I’ll stay with you.” There are more than a handful of cringers, and the schmaltz just piles on.
A disappointing step backward and a damper on their future prospects, Digitalism have shot themselves in the foot with this one. I Love You Dude is offensive in its banality, and other than that it’s so mundane that it’s tough to even want to care. It’s obviously an attempt to improve their marketability, and all they had to do was neuter their sound.