album reviews

the Death Set
Michel Poiccard
Ninja Tune (2011)

Kindred spirits: Deerhoof, the Go! Team, the Beastie Boys.

The Death Set is here to party, and if the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Australia group's jubilant electronic fuzz didn't make that obvious, its song titles will: The trio's latest album, "Michel Poiccard", offers such tracks as "7 PM Woke Up an Hour Ago" and "Too Much Fun for Regrets", whose spazzy, distorted beats all but come with an invitation for debauchery.

But the album's hard-partying pronouncements come with a darker side: Several songs pay tribute to Beau Velasco, one of the Set's co-founders who died of an overdose in 2009.

It's telling, then, that the album's longest track, the 4 1/2-minute "I Miss You Beau Velasco", is a blurry dream-pop memorial to the man, while the final track, "Is It the End Again?", finds co-founder Johnny Siera crooning like Badly Drawn Boy: "But like a firework/you were beautiful to watch reach for the sky," he sings. "Then explode, but I still can't believe it happened though."

These tender moments aren't enough to turn "Michel Poiccard" into a maudlin affair, though the album has other weaknesses: The 17 tracks clock in at just over 35 minutes, creating a disjointed, hasty feel. And while the brevity of the songs adds to the album's spastic, rapid-fire atmosphere, the real problem is not so much that the group changes gears; it's that they do it so abruptly and so often.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 20 May 2011
.: Michel Poiccard on