British electronic duo Simian Mobile Disco returns with its third full-length album "Unpatterns" and continues its tradition of releasing some of the most interesting EDM music of the year. After spending time doing production for some of the biggest emerging artists in the world such as Florence & The Machine & Peaches, it is refreshing to hear the duo back to their own music again. Expectations for this album have been particularly high after the much lauded EP they worked on with Gossip lead singer Beth Ditto last year. An almost universally agreed highlight of the dance genre in 2011, pressure to create a similar experience built as the release date grew closer.
Perhaps it is because of all of their collaborative work over the last few years, but it is actually a lucky thing that Simian Mobile Disco actually decided to go in the opposite direction. They are still very much creating the same dynamic dance floor fillers for which they are known, but one different thing about this album versus most of their past releases is that this one features no star to propel their songs into a more mainstream direction. It is pure, consistent dance music this time around.
Overall this approach works beautifully. There are a few shining moments on "Unpatterns" that are balanced out by more laid back tracks. Big and sometimes overwhelming songs such as "Put Your Hands Together" and "Your Love Ain't Fair" are the meat of the album, and essential in helping it stand out from the myriad of EDM albums surfacing this year. However, where Simian Mobile Disco's craft and understanding of a complete listening experience comes in is their selection of a few tracks in between the sweaty craziness that bring us down and lull us back into gentle movement. "Cerulean" is a brilliant, mid-tempo track that might be unremarkable outside of the album but is something of a centerpiece in this context. Similarly, "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" is a hypnotic disco stomper worthy of any late-night basement party. It is the rare dance album that remains thrilling from beginning to end without also feeling overloaded and frenetic. "Unpatterns" is one of those rare albums and is a welcome addition to the current dance scene.