Toronto
2 min

Brainless rebirths

Or brilliant boogie with brains

Credit: Xtra files

Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani – hell, all the pop gals lately – have the same interests. They want to act, sing and – dance be gone – have their own fashion labels. They want it all. But Stefani comes across as so approachable and real (celebrity real anyhow) and clever. She’s going to make it after all. You root for her.



J-Lo, however, is a publicity hound that parades her bling and fake emotions. She’s the pearl and we’re the swine. Though I wasn’t crazy about Stefani’s plastic star-studded debut, at least her dance album had a gleeful kick-ass quality.



Lopez’s fourth album Rebirth is a tepid affair where Lopez’s mid-range vocals attack the pedestrian beats with Louis Vuitton buckets of false emotion. Sure it’s a dance album but don’t fool yourself – great dance music is all about emotion.



The first single, “Get Right” is quite good (apparently a leftover from Usher’s Confessions) but it does hang on the Maceo And The Macks’ “Soul Power ’74” sax sample way too much. Rick Harrison (“Crazy In Love”) wrote the song and its lyrics are way boring. Imagine how much more outrageous fun could be had if Beyonce took over the vocals?



Lopez is helped by guests Fat Joe, Fabolous and the production talents of Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins and Outkast’s Big Boi. Boi works his magic on the only other good track on the album. “Still Around” has an early Motown/Jackson Fivefeel with summery love loosely cascading over the tight beats. Lopez coos pleasant-enough pop clichés about love and hand- holding in the park.



Madonna isn’t an actress and I think Lopez isn’t a singer. She’s a multimedia empire. Empires have no heart. Music can’t survive without heart. The pulse of the beat, relatable words and emotional singing is key. Recently in an interview Lopez proudly declared, “I’m having tons of rebirths.” Proof positive that she’s altogether meaningless.



James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem has said, “Making music seems really self-indulgent but making people dance seems honourable.” After three years of clever singles, this burly cinnamon teddy bear from New York City has blessed us with his self-titled disco/punk debut. The album swirls in a world of cool 30-something angst. The verbal attacks are as filled with humour and bitterness as aggressive disco; house, funk, hip hop, punk and electronica sounds of the last 30 years co-exist in a nostalgic sound parade. Innumerable splashes of inspiration (Kraftwerk, Wire, The Fall, Beck and Missy Elliott) can be heard throughout.



Cowbells and guitars clash and burn on “Daft Punk Is Playing In My House.” Cocky cool Murphy plays the geeky know-it-all with pop culture wisdom to share. “I’ll show you the ropes kid/ Show you the ropes.” On “Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up,” the sleepy laziness of the bass line makes Murphy’s dazed thoughts a treat. “But I’m never as tired as when I’m waking up/ Though it feels like I’m in love again.”



The album is a deconstructed disco pastiche full of relevant human turmoil that confronts the issues of age and experience versus youth and cool. Murphy hits it out of the ballpark on the fierce, unbridled “Movement.” With feedback screeching from behind, Murphy spits out to the J-Los of the world, “It’s like a movement/ Without the bother of all the meaning.” Thinking man’s boogie.



REBIRTH.

Jennifer Lopez.

Epic. $14.



LCD SOUNDSYSTEM.

LCD Soundsystem.

DFA. $17.