The press release insists these three utterly marvellous electro knob-twiddlers hail from deepest darkest Michigan, but I’m not so sure. Seconds into the opener “Still Love In The Midwest” I’m convinced their Chevy spends a lot more time on the M42 than it does on Route 66.
With its darkly funky echoes of 1980’s New Order guitar licks and aggressively cheesy 808 handclaps, this just has to have something to do with Manchester doesn’t it? Fear not, kids, Midwest Product are not from any place like you, as rapidly becomes clear on the superb “Clicks And Crackers”, which as well as doing exactly what it says on the tin, sounds like Air playing space jazz on the moon with Adrian Sherwood. Imagine that.
And boy can they play; despite being card-carrying bleepmongers, Chad Pratts live drumming has an effortless swing that’s guaranteed to get your booty moving, as American audiences have been finding out on the Ghostly International tour this summer. Midwest Product manage that rare thing, a shimmeringly sucessful fusion of atmospheric high-end electronica and live instruments, without either sounding tacked on. But just when you think you’ve got these boys all worked out, along comes “Alternator”. One of the finest of a very fine bunch indeed, this stunningly beautiful ambient groove could chill the socks off the angriest of Republican Guards. Warp Records listen up…
Hold on, is that a sheep? Well, yes actually. Our four legged friends provide unexpected backing vocals on “Beardman In The City” to almost devastatingly strange effect while that slinkiest of grooves just keeps on getting better; who needs vocoders anyway? Things get a little darker with the late night road trips of “Lethal Cop (Kurt Russell)” and “A Genuine Display”, in what is surely a wilfully mischevious attempt to make the outrageously cheesy opening to the left-field pop of “Vitamin” sound even more unsettling. The club night would be, er, interesting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The LP (do the kids still call them that?) draws to a close with “Clarity”, a perfectly blissful fusion of acoustic guitar, laid-back funky drums and stylish electronica that leaves you in no doubt you’ve just been listening to one of the best albums of 2002. Catch them now, and feel very smug and terribly terribly knowledgeable in a few months time.