casiokids Topp stemning pa lokal bar
  • THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 2010

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Norwegian electro-pop outfit Casiokids debut in the U.S. with Topp stemning pa lokal bar, reminding us what the term "dance music" means. Everything about the relentless beat, whether throbbing or xylophonic, oozes colorful lights and claustrophobic grooving. It's fun, to be sure, but I'm not sure it's fun enough to carry the fact that it doesn't go far beyond that.

Musical merit of Topp stemning pa lokal bar aside, Casiokids are definitely experts of nomenclature. The band's name could not be more apt &mdash the unadulterated joy sounds like it could not possibly come from anything other than retro plastic instruments wielded by children: the nasal buzz that's somewhere in the melody of nearly every song brings back memories of colorful melodicas, and the beats are old-school enough to have come off of one of those first keyboards with built in drum machines (which seemed super high-tech at the time). This sort of self-aware, earnest quality of the album is rare in electro-dance tunes, and the best part of Casiokids.

The voice's almost ethereal vibe, more reminiscent of a walk in the woods than a night at the club, goes two ways. On one hand it stops the album from falling completely into one narrow genre, but on the other hand it's too easy a save. It sets Casiokids apart from other dance groups, but also weighs down the album by blurring it together &mdash maybe they should have gone all in. The far-off sound of the vocals, which are the part of electronic music that have the ability to ground it in the human world, make it feel like music to which you might watch someone dance through a glass wall, rather than actually dancing yourself. While the vocal style is in question, the language barrier (the album is in Norwegian) doesn't seem to present a problem; the music definitely doesn't feel like it needs discernible words, maybe just something a little more aggressive than the vocals provided.

Moments when the group opts for unorthodox sounds, like the intro to "Verdens storste land," are welcome, as are choice passages of daring rhythm (a weirdly syncopated bit here and there in later tracks). Without these the album can get monotonous. It's concise, at eight tracks, and tight enough to keep you on board. But if you stay tuned for the second side (remixes, etc.), you'll probably get lost before long. Topp stemning pa lokal bar serves as a well-constructed meet-the-Casiokids album, a sampling of what they've got going on that's immensely enjoyable at times but ultimately leaves you wanting something more.

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Casiokids on Myspace

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