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First Listen: Chromeo, 'Business Casual'

Chromeo, the duo of Patrick Gemayel (a.k.a. P-Thugg) and David Macklovitch (a.k.a. Dave 1), boldly embraces '80s-style electro-funk. The two began working together in high school, originally focusing on hip-hop, but since their 2004 debut (She's in Control), they've energized dance floors worldwide. Their latest release, Business Casual, takes a sophisticated approach to their glossy sound and finds earnest pop ballads coexisting alongside club bangers.

Chromeo continues to hone its songwriting skills -- a process its members credit to their recent collaborations with Daryl Hall, with whom Chromeo performed this summer. The retro pop influence is clear, particularly in Business Casual's snappy "Grow Up."

The new album maintains the solid electro-funk foundation for which the duo is known, but it stretches the scope of Chromeo's instrumentation by weaving in richer guitars and spicier synths. Some of the subtleties may surprise fans, particularly in the French lament "J'ai Claque la Porte," in which Dave 1 fingerpicks an acoustic guitar among the drum machines.

Still, the opening track is called "Hot Mess" -- this is a lighthearted record, with Chromeo getting the party going with glitzy up-tempo numbers like "When the Night Falls" and "I'm Not Contagious." The pair's signature suave demeanor is apparent in "Night by Night," in which P-Thugg's vocoder chorus paints a vivid picture of pastel casual suits.

Though some audiences may label tunes steeped in four-on-the-floor disco beats as cheesy, Chromeo's tightly crafted songs display rare talent. Business Casual showcases some of the best pop sounds of the '80s, a decade that's often the brunt of musical mockery. But Chromeo unabashedly invites listeners to a big, bright, neon-lit dance floor, and there's never anything wrong with that.

Business Casual will stream here in its entirety until Oct. 4. The album will be released on Sept. 14. Please leave your thoughts on the album in the comments section below.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Lindsay Sanchez
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