Chromeo's 'Adult Contemporary' review: Funklordz Unite

Chromeo (aka the Funklordz) delivers velvety basslines, clever lyrics, and groovy dancefloor-filling anthems on their sixth album, 'Adult Contemporary.'
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Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo have been crafting eminently danceable electronic tunes since the mid-2000s, and their sixth album, Adult Contemporary, continues the group’s high standards of songwriting.

David Macklovitch (aka Dave 1) and Patrick Gemayel (aka P-Thugg), the two masterminds behind Chromeo, oftentimes bring in big-name collaborators on their tracks, such as Vampire Weekend mastermind Ezra Koenig on "Ezra's Interlude" from their 2014 album White Women. That was never more true on the group’s 2018 effort, Head Over Heels, which was stuffed with collaborators ranging from rapper French Montana to R&B journeyman The-Dream.

While some tracks were elevated by their guests (“Bedroom Calling, Pt. 1” being an album standout), the album suffered overall from “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome.

On 2024’s Adult Contemporary, the group pared back those collaborations, as there’s only one notable collaborator given equal footing to the duo – La Roux (aka Elly Jackson). This decision allows the Funklordz to focus on what makes them engaging to begin with – the singular talents and tremendous chemistry of the two main players.

On Adult Contemporary, Chromeo understands music can be fun for fun's sake

Chromeo albums frequently begin with an absolute ripper of a song, and Adult Contemporary doesn’t fall flat in that regard. “(I Don’t Need A) New Girl” features trademark slap bass and cascading, ever-present synthesizer work from P-Thugg. The group always keeps listeners on their toes, as the chorus’s phrasing leaves the word “girl” trailing into the second stanza.

Gemayel’s brilliant work behind the keys is perhaps the single most important element of Chromeo albums, and he’s in fine form here. His tones are uniformly crystalline and inviting, though he doesn’t get to spread his wings on that many keyboard solos on this album, which is a minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless.

Another early-album highlight is BTS (no, not that BTS), which flips the script from the duo’s extremely libidinous norms. The song features a number of enjoyable lines regarding the state of the world: “See, we've been running and moving around; Still turn around and we're broke; Putting hours in by the thousands; Like, what is this, a joke? They've got W1s, W9s, and W6, and fours; What the difference is, who knows? We're exhausted and it shows.”

At the end of the day, though, the duo is getting older, and, as such, sometimes “rest can be better than sex,” which is where the song’s title “BTS” comes from. An eminently enjoyable track with the duo’s standard strong melody writing and highly danceable instrumental backing, this one serves as a direct counterpoint to the duo’s prior work on 2014’s “Over Your Shoulder.”

The one collaborative song on AC does not founder the duo’s vision for the album. In fact, La Roux’s guest spot on “Replacements” happens to be one of the highlights of the album. The ascending, whooshing keyboard part that signals the start of the chorus is striking and Dave 1 and La Roux’s harmonizing vocals in the second chorus are worth the price of admission alone for the album.

My personal favorite track on the album, “Personal Effects” features the duo’s trademark wit and this song’s chorus is an earworm of the highest order. Furthermore, Dave 1’s always-suave vocals make even the most inane details sound sexy: “Look at my phone charger, that's not mine; Curling iron, that's not mine; Hair ties, not mine; She loses hair ties all the time.”

Near the end of the album, one of the group’s singles pops up as track 10: “Words With You.” Personally, this is the perfect track that matches my gait when I’m on a midday walk, so there’s that, but it also, again, features some spicy slap bass parts as well as an endlessly hummable chorus that also contains some smoky brass splashes that are sure to have you bopping your head in time.

A Chromeo album truly wouldn’t be complete without an orgiastic vocoder feature for P-Thugg, and Chromeo wisely decide to save it for the tail end of the album on “Two of Us (Friendsnlovers, Pt. 2)," which is part two of what we'll call the "Friendsnlovers suite." As the vocoder is Thugg’s trademark, it does seem slightly underutilized on the album, but this track more than makes up for it with Gemayel wailing phrases like “It's the two of us, ambiguous; Lovers and friends don't mix,” for over two minutes. Notably, this track actually features P-Thugg on lead vocals, which is the first time that has happened on a Chromeo record.

The album’s 50-plus minute runtime simply breezes by, which is a testament to the songcraft on display here. A major part of Chromeo’s appeal is their ability to deliver seemingly goofy song premises with complete seriousness, while also understanding the assignment in terms of diamond-precise production, outlandishly catchy hooks, and a generally brilliant sense of melody. It’s an intoxicating package, and one that always delivers and leaves listeners feeling refreshed and joyful.

Sometimes music can simply be fun for fun’s sake. The Funklordz understand that, and I hope they never stop making albums that feature joyful treatises on love, relationships, and sex backed by flashy, 80s-style guitar solos from Dave 1 and over-the-top vocoder asides from P-Thugg. The world is a better place because Chromeo are in it.

Score: 4.5/5

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