Calling all adults: Chromeo is back, and have they got a record for you. It’s brazenly titled Adult Contemporary, and it’s set to redefine the term. There’s a complacency and a softness to “adult contemporary” as we know it, in a pleated khakis and cable-knit sweater kind of way. In the hands of Dave 1 and P-Thugg however, the phrase takes on a whole new meaning. Let’s parse it word by word.
“Adult” is a loaded thing to call someone in this day and age, since adults have basically wrecked our planet. But for Chromeo, to be an adult doesn’t mean being a cog in the square world’s machinery. Rather, it signifies evolution, sophistication, and nuance. Aging like wine or cheese, not like fruit or milk. While we do so, how much of our groove do we actually choose to hold on to? Chromeo says: “all of it.” As you already know (unless you’ve been living in a vibes vacuum since the early 2000s), Chromeo is the paramount funk band of our time. Friends since childhood, Dave and Pee have built an empire of soigné, danceable, and intelligent music over the course of two decades. Few duos can claim this kind of psychic togetherness and evergreen staying power. Really, who else? One must venture into the stratosphere to find precedents. And now that Dave’s double-breasted suits are popping and Pee’s turtlenecks are in effect mode, it’s safe to say that we can rely on Chromeo to stick around for years to come.
Wait, do you want to hear something really adult? Try this on for size: the anguish of late-stage capitalist monogamy is very much a thing. Here, we come to the essence of Adult Contemporary, the most lyrically cohesive Chromeo opus to date: it’s a 14-track meditation on mature relationships. This is perhaps best conveyed in the song “BTS,” which sounds like a classic Chromeo funk jam but, as is often the case with these guys, hides a deeper message. An ode to just going to sleep (“rest can be Better Than Sex”), it’s about that moment in an affair of the heart when you can just say, “Baby, this week was a doozy and I really just need to crash.” How real is that? Or there’s a song like “Personal Effects,” in which Dave reminisces over a partner after seeing her phone charger left at his house. Modern romance, indeed. Throughout the album, songs function like short stories, each a variation on what it’s like to be in love in 2024 – from joyful commitment to crippling codependency, from the platonic to the profane. It’s no picnic...yet lo and behold, it can also be hilarious, and Dave and Pee tackle it all in their signature straight-faced style. Lest we forget the core Chromeo value: there is no such thing as irony.
Onto that other word. “Contemporary.” An interesting choice for a band who has always been equally of-the-moment and openly indebted to its ancestors. But in an era when everything is available all the time, seamlessly melding together the new and the old might just be the most contemporary act an artist can commit. Chromeo offers us a singularity of funk, with music more elegant and considered than ever before. Take for instance the lush horn arrangements on “Words With You” and “Lost And Found” or the banging electro-synths in “(I Don’t Need A) New Girl.” This is Chromeo in full two-man studio muso mode, danceable and delicate, simultaneously wielding deft live instrumentation and a relentless four-on-the-floor kick drum that scans the entire record. For the first time in a while, it really is a tandem affair. The previous albums were very much about collaborating. Getting other people involved and going big. Adult Contemporary is more ambitious specifically because it revolves solely around two besties at the top of their game, doing absolutely everything on their own. Hence a deeply intimate feel, with Dave and Pee accomplishing two things at once: getting back to basics in terms of method while also expanding the songwriting and atmosphere. The Chromeo blueprint of maximum funk earnestness sits front and center.
So with that in mind, we invite you to join not only our contemporary times but also the ranks of the grown. Contrary to our infantilizing culture – which would prefer you stunted –, adulthood is a blast. And with a soundtrack such as Adult Contemporary, it’s a place of pleasure, discernment, groove, and comradeship. Come now, dip your toe into the infinity pool of maturity. You’ll find yourself, before too long, happy to evolve funkily alongside Chromeo.
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