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Electronicat - 21st Century Toy

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Artist: Electronicat

Album: 21st Century Toy

Label: Disko B

Review date: Aug. 12, 2003

Should-Be Hit of the Year

A man in a t-shirt and Cubs cap strolled up to the video store counter and asked, with nary a pinch of self-confidence, “Do you have any Police Academy movies?”

“Nope,” I said, after typing “POLICE ACA” into the search field and getting nothing. “We sure don’t.”

“That’s cool… Hey, what’s this playing?”

It’s Electronicat’s 21st Century Toy.

“It’s really good.”

Since I’ve maintained some connection to the music industry since age 16, I’ve amassed a lot of CDs. Some I’ve sold, some I’ve left on rest area picnic tables, some I’ve hung onto, awaiting the opportunity to use them for something. This job gives me the chance to test some of the odder ones on strangers. The reactions usually can’t be gauged on the good-bad spectrum: “What is this?” or “This is weird” or “Are you trying to hypnotize yourself?” Throwing on some bizarre CD you got for free years ago can be a grand conversation starter.

But there are a few that everyone likes. F’rinstance, everyone likes Electronicat.

Makes sense to me. This blend of seedy, Gary Glitter glam rock, primitive electro-buzz and pulsing techno – delivered with a confident French sense of humor – makes me wonder why anyone bumps slide-by-night horseshit like Fischerspooner. It’s corny, sure, but everyone who likes stadium rock or cheesepuff disco should hear this.

Fred Bigot’s too-clever pseudonym might psyche you up for something more stylish and less meaty, but the first few chords of the opening football chant “Tonight” should ease the concerns of all you technophobes. The maddeningly catchy “Frisco Bay” maintains the pre-punk ’70s vibe but adds a gust of clattering electronics to the backdrop. By the time he gets to “Whatever You Want,” which is what would’ve happened if Suicide had ever properly sold out, you’ve accepted this as a top-notch rock alb, as opposed to a disco record that doesn’t do anything new.

“I detest originality,” says Jean Cocteau, another relentlessly glitzy French entertainer, “and try to avoid it at all costs.” Likewise, Electronicat borrows only the hardware from his contemporaries. The artistic traditions he plunders all predate him by at least a couple of decades, and, by focusing on the beat rather than the number of beats per minute, he stews something both inspired and accessible.

A two year-old would enjoy this album.

By Emerson Dameron

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