Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #5 Soulwax - Nite Versions
Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until we unveil our #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#5 Soulwax - Nite Versions
Any Minute Now was well-enough received to be considered a success, but Soulwax – arguably the best knob-twiddling dancefloor firestarters this decade – couldn’t leave well-enough alone, so they turned to their bread-and-butter to remake it: the remix. I’ve always thought that remixing your own output is kind of a touchy area – how can you take an objective angle on your own material, and won’t a dance dub just sound like a shoddy rehash? But I’ve also developed an exceptional soft spot for material that demolishes my expectations, and Nite Versions is a barreling, supercharged, relentlessly intricate album that starts and finishes with the power of a racehorse. It’s simply a better record than the source material all-around, and man, it takes balls to say “we can do better than that first try – let’s have another go, yeah?” Their second take just happened to turn out golden.
And you have to imagine it’s the backdrop that makes Nite Versions so solid. We can’t forget that they’re real musicians – a fact that makes their live set spectacular (how many electronic acts can actually play their music these days?). And the songs rise above a simple marathon of bleeps and bloops, hitting nasty hooks, lulls, variations and reversals like the best of rock songs. The structure of, say, “E Talking” flourishes off-measure, builds to a head, retracts into a detuned synth for the vocals, suddenly digitalizes out of an overdriven guitar-and-drums march, and corrals all the elements into furious climax before the follower, “Accidents and Compliments.” In fact, it’s amazing they wrestled this one into a continuous mix: with such grounded songwriting swirled up there in the beats, the eclecticism of style is almost lost in the way they seamlessly string each track into the next. This is one of my favorite “set it and leave it” CDs – something you can throw on at a party and not touch for 50+ minutes. While it’s energetic, it’s rarely predictable, which should solidify Nite Versions as a staple in any dance / electronic listener’s library.
- Phillip Taylor-Parker
Check back tomorrow for the next album! To see the full list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade, click here.
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