Music Reviews
Attack Decay Sustain Release

Simian Mobile Disco Attack Decay Sustain Release

(Wichita) Rating - 5/10

Every now and then, a record comes a long that makes me wonder about the indicators by which rock critics should judge music. For me it has always been a mix between the strength of the actual songs, whether they stick together in the concept of the record and how that record stands in the catalogue of the artist and its competitors. I then use that information to answer one single question: is this a record worth taking the trip to the store and paying a vast amount of money for? The answer to that and the strength of which that answer would be given ('NO!!' = 1/10, 'not really' = 5/10, and so on) is the score you see above these reviews.

But sometimes I get a little confused. A few weeks ago I slapped off Tungg's Good Arrows with a 4/10 because I thought it was ridiculously uninspired cowardice for a band labelling itself as 'experimental'. But was that unfair? Should I have not taken their positioning into account when reviewing the music? Should I have focussed more on the actual strength of the songs, what they sound like, without comparing it with what I think it's supposed to sound like? Would it really have helped if I did not do any research on Tunng and just listened to the music without knowing who made it or where it came from?

But Tunng has nothing on Simian Mobile Disco. I've been walking around with the record for weeks, listening to it on and off at various times of the day (which might have something to do with the fact that this review is a little late). But while writing this, I can't really hum any of the songs, nor really tell you the outlines of what they sound like. Attack Decay Sustain Release washes over me like water over a stone, leaving not the slightest impression or memory of its existence. It's an album that really shines in the club, but doesn't really fare well on record. Instead, its 36 minutes fall somewhere between, on the rain soaked streets outside. Cold, alone and slightly hung over. Clear cut case of a very negative score, right?

No! The problem is: I remember hearing Simian Mobile Disco tracks in the club. Especially It's The Beat, with its unexpected synths and catchy vocals. And Hustler, with its sudden bass breakdown at the end. Heck, I even saw Simian Mobile Disco play live during a festival in April and I remember it was one of the best nights I've ever had. But sitting on the couch listening to the stereo, or on my way to work on my iPod, I'm stunningly emotionless about it.

So here's where that question rears its ugly head again. What kind of score do you give a record that you can go completely mental about on a Saturday night, but that you can care absolutely nothing about on a Thursday afternoon? Do I award a rating to Attack Decay Sustain Release for the way in which I think it fulfils its purpose (which is to make people dance in the club)? Or do I take the words 'record review' literally and rate it as a record you can play at home on your stereo? My safest bet is to sit somewhere in between. On a Saturday night, in an adrenaline soaked club with a nasty bass - Simian Mobile Disco is amongst the greatest fun you'll ever have. But on a perfectly round, 16 gram piece of plastic - it ain't really worth a damn.