Arling and Cameron “Good Times”
In the era of the Spotify Snack Bar it’s often said the art of the album is a dying one. Who can be bothered to lay on a banquet when the diners move around so fast? But for some musicians the lure of the fifty minute mood, the opportunity to take the audience on a mental journey, is still there. True, sometimes it’s a gritty bar with dreadful lighting, sometimes it’s a tour round a brilliant white health spa, but a successful album can always take you somewhere.
Delightful Dutch electronic music duo Arling and Cameron, who spearheaded the unabashedly outward-looking J-pop/lounge-dance trend of the mid/late 1990s, were always about the journey. And good news, for “Good Times”, their sunny 2015 comeback, finds them still determinedly and delightfully committed to making “an album”.
The playfulness remains, but with somewhat beefier beats, their feet firmly planted in a kind of endless cosmopolitan moment – quizzical one moment, smiling and dancing the next. This is pop-as-cinema-soundtrack, with sudden switches of direction, and surprising cameos (Princess Superstar turns up representin’ for NYC, as does Nina Hagen in full purring cat mode on ‘Eve’).
It’s an album full of charm, whimsy, Dadaist rapping (“24”), studied beats (“80s”) and possessed of a wry humour even as your feet pull you out onto the dancefloor (this is after all a band who announced this comeback album using two 14-year-old lookalikes dressed as A+C in their younger days, DJing a 10 minute megamix set to bemused clubbers). The music industry may have decided to gorge on itself since they last put out a longer player, but Good Times proves the duo can still lay on a fabulous spread. (That’s enough food metaphors. Ed.)