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Psapp - The Camel’s Back

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Artist: Psapp

Album: The Camel’s Back

Label: Domino

Review date: Mar. 10, 2009

“Hell-o — it’s the ’90s!” was an expression of comic incredulity my ex used to toss around from time to time as a means of illustrating the distance between the grim Aughts and the flirty insouciance of the previous decade. Now, I find it nicely summarizes the rampant culture-jacking occurring everywhere from television to film to records like Psapp’s The Camel’s Back.

Remember Combustible Edison? Bet you haven’t thought about them in a while. In the ’90s, they rode the crest of an extremely brief lounge revival, which, if memory serves me right, fell somewhere between the ska resurrection and the swing “craze.” Great Britain’s Psapp might’ve fit in well then, when the Cardigans were still coy and Monica Lewinski was just another student at Santa Monica College.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy The Camel’s Back – my own youth is back there, crystallized in amber and temporarily freed by Psapp’s infectious electro-glee. Psapp’s core duo of singer Galia Durant and production whiz Carim Classman have the whole retro-bossa-indie-motorik thing totally figured out. It’s easy to be swept along by Durant’s warm yet remote vocal melodies and Classman’s deft use of electronics, toy instruments and – hell-o – brass and exotica percussion.

Psapp’s effervescent arrangements leave nothing to chance, never missing a musical punchline. You can practically hear the in-studio wink-winking and nudge-nudging. All of the tunes are perfectly agreeable, like sharing a picnic with a nice-looking freckled gal who really digs your suede loafers. Let the Goth kids brood, the wiggers wig – Psapp is for lovers.

It’s probably not easy to take seriously a band heard on Gray’s Anatomy, but who says we have to? If The Camel’s Back is just an elaborate in-joke, it’s still a pretty good one, and certainly on par with my ex’s. Which is to say it’s fine for a lark, but you can leave the tikis in the attic where they belong.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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