Coming from Sony’s Wall of Sound indie-u-like repository, you may not have heard of Infadels, but you’ve probably heard them. If you’ve watched any adverts in the past year, and wondered: “what exactly do body-popping Japanese cowboys have to do with mobile phones?”, you’ll have heard the opening strains of “Give yourself to Me”, and their mass-media exposure is unlikely to stop there.
It may be a forgone conclusion that the imminent push of the group has been financially inspired by the success of other electro indie outfits such as The Killers and The Bravery, but never fear; there is nary an overpriced coiff (or indeed, in vocalist Bnaan’s case, hair to style) in sight. The production sandpaper has happily left a few rough edges, much to the album’s benefit, and the influences are candidly displayed with as much congruity as a Picasso painting’s facial arrangement.
Explosive opener “Love Like Semtex” acts as a showcase for how this band is set apart from pretty boy contemporaries; the vocals are unafraid to be crude, and the electronica hits levels of filth akin to more recent Primal Scream efforts (The latter less than a coincidence, as the two share the production talents of Jagz Kooner). With a catchy, brash combination of synths, drum machines, and guitars, “Love like Semtex” deserves to be burning up the indie disco. Unsurprisingly “Jagger 67”, which was also released as a single, follows this lead, and takes it even further. The kind of electro-funk intro you wouldn´t be surprised to hear at any mainstream dance club is suddenly subverted by a brash cockney mantra covering a mid-tempo drum beat. Whilst this kind of constant shift in style could be seen as an example of this album´s confusion, or arguable lack of direction, it proves irresistible. The tune finds its´feet just as you do, and whilst “Love Like Semtex” may be the obvious floorfiller, “Jagger 67” more than holds its´own. Don´t be surprised if you find yourself (and your Pimp Shoes) requesting this one during dance downtime.
The raucous vocal stylings of both tracks hint at Infadels’ 1980s ska-punk influences, and help create an identity for the shouty fivesome. Toe-tapper “Top Boy” being the most blatant example of this, with an upbeat spoken-word style that wouldn’t be out of place on a Streets album, but comes across as sounding more like some fantastical collaboration between the Specials and Jacques Lu Cont.
infectious beats and energetic vocals, and the ability to disappear on a sweeping synth-pop bridge
Once these standout tracks are disregarded, however, much of the album seems to blend into a very competent, but occasionally forgetful trip through ambient electronica. “Girl That Speaks No Words” is the highlight of this category, with all the characteristics of New Order’s more experimental efforts, managing to be simultaneously mopey and uplifting. Whilst “Murder that Sound” carries a surprising, and effective, disco hook, the track remains largely anonymous. The reason for the apparently benign nature of these tracks is undoubtedly the fact that the bar for energy and drama has been raised so high with this album. Where these tracks yield a polish not seen on the more energetic tracks, they are not as well suited to the unpolished voice carrying them. It becomes a small mercy that “1’20”, an extended intro to “Murder that Sound”, is divided into it’s own separate, skippable track.
When the album is seen as a display of the band’s versatility, however, it isn’t surprising that they would want to cover as much territory as possible, rather than clinging to the style of their singles. Their critique of Reality TV’s relentless march into our living rooms is an effective microcosm of what the band has to offer; infectious beats and energetic vocals, but also the ability to disappear on a sweeping synth-pop bridge, the kind that may be a trademark for the Bravery, Flowers & co, but is easily matched here. The sheer ballsy variety on display here lets any interested parties know that Infadels are not kidding around when it comes to avoiding labels.
As a new inductee to Infadels’ fanbase, I heartily recommend picking this up. If a night at the indie disco is your thing, there’ll be at least one track you like, and one that you love. At various points, We Are Not The Infadels will have you dancing, grinning, and even dreaming. Hopefully, despite my reservations about their lack of direction, they will remain as chaotic and individual as ever with their future releases.
Good show, fellas.