Review: Discovery - LP
The overuse of auto-tune in popular music has led rap’s mogul Jay-Z to say “Enough”—but that hasn’t fazed these Brooklyn hipsters. Discovery, the new indie pop duo comprised of Rostam Batmanglij (producer of Vampire Weekend) and Wes Miles (vocalist of Ra Ra Riot) have created an album so overdone in auto-tune that Kanye West will probably ask for credit. Maybe I’m inferring too much, but it seems that Batmanglij is strategically using this proven method for pop success. His production with Vampire Weekend was compared to Paul Simon’s Graceland, which was considered one of the most successful pop albums ever. Now with LP his use of auto-tune feels like a ploy to make a pop record. For those unfazed by auto-tune get ready to discover, but for those who feel like Jay-Z, well—we heard it all before.
To the fans of Vampire Weekend expecting to revel in a follow up style, let me break the news, you’re going to be thoroughly disappointed. The album delves deep into electronic effects, immersing itself in the indie digital pop scene that is emerging as a blend of new wave, pop, and electro. Discovery will undoubtedly receive criticism for its overuse of auto-tune, which at times is rightfully deserved. However, it would be a hasty conclusion to write this album off entirely, because there are some gems.
“Can You Discover,” might be one of the first tracks where auto-tuned improved the song. The auto-tuned rendition of Ra Ra Riot’s “Can You Tell” sounds fuller, with the digital changes creating a UB40 reggae sound. It also seems to enhance Miles’ lyrics making them feel strangely more expressive. There is also “Orange Shirt,” a goofy electro hip hop pop song with drum patterns and synthesizers sounding familiar of Timbaland’s production for JT. Fortunately, Miles doesn’t brag about hos and bling, sounding more hipster nerdy with lyrics like, “In me I got a crush...I promise to leave before your mother wakes up in the morning.” The best song might be “So Insane,” where Batmanglij and Miles seem to master the balance between digital effects and creativity. Here the beat moves like a rollercoaster, dragging then chugging along, before picking up as the rhythm and effects change with Mile’s expression of being in love.
As expected the biggest fault with the album is due to the overuse of auto-tune. On “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” featuring Angel Deradoorian from the Dirty Projectors, the production drowns out the tiny sounding voices of both Deradoorian and Miles. With their Jackson 5 cover of “I Want You Back,” Mile’s vocals sound washed with auto-tune, embellished in an overly synthesized and kitsch pop song. “Carby,” which features Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, plays like bare commercial techno with an absence of substance beyond digital rendering.
With LP there isn’t much to discover. The proven auto-tune again creates some tracks that are FM friendly. Meanwhile, the overuse of the tool has continued to create a regurgitated song. The hype building around this side-project will ultimately leave many listeners disappointed. Though with every pop album there will be detractors, or haters, it’s important to remember that pop is meant for the populace, and creativity doesn’t mean complete originality.