By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Who knew music this shit-hot could come from a mountainous Norwegian town known as "The City of Rain"? Following in the footsteps of fellow townsfolk Röyksopp, Kings of Convenience, and Sondre Lerche, Fredrik Saroea (vocals, guitar, and keyboard) and Ketil Mosnes (backing vocals, bass, and keyboard) formed Datarock in 2000 while they were students in Bergen, Norway (where "there's still lots of black metal"). Or, as Saroea once recounted in an online interview: "We fell in love. He became pregnant and gave birth to a small Casio watch. As our love grew, the Casio watch grew to become a Casio keyboard. And that's how we became Datarock."
They gigged around for a couple of years, released a few EPs through various local record companies, and finished their full-length debut in 2005 on their own label, Young Aspiring Professionals. After signing with Canada's Nettwerk Music Group last summer, Saroea and Mosnes finally saw the stateside release of Datarock Datarock, and it's an album of seriously silly and dweebishly sexy contradictions that'll have you shouting from Bergen's seven mountaintops: "I have heard the future, and it's all about the past!"
Yes, Datarock is riding the dance-rock wave (a win-win situation, if you ask us) that has taken hold of the world by the disco balls and won't ... let ... go. And yes, the bandmates recycle the obvious Eighties New Wave and Seventies art-school influences (what, you never liked Devo or Talking Heads?). But they're showroom-fresh, funky, and just plain fun.
"We'll reinvent everything good and decent in the past 30 years of pop culture," Saroea says. "And in the haze of our cross-referencing intertextuality, we'll make everyone relive the fun of the dance floor."
Okay, let's start with the Datarock uniform of Vans and red tracksuits, yours for only $199 via their MySpace page. Sure, tracksuits are as old as the Beastie Boys, but the tufts of chest hair peaking out from under all of that nylon and the Porsche sunglasses are what add an element of cool danger, perfect for posing in an Eighties Drakkar Noir cologne ad.
Then there's Datarock Datarock's knack for making you simultaneously laugh with and at the pair. "Bulldozer" begins with Arcade Fire-esque guitar riffs and lyrics about BMX being better than sex. (Not quite, if you live in a city with such high precipitation.) The duo gives the geekoid masses an entire anthem with "Computer Camp Love." Think Kraftwerk doing Grease's "Summer Nights" as sung by Devo, while conjuring images of floppy-disk sniffing and over-the-keyboard fondling. "We actually met [Devo's] Gerald Casale in Norway," remembers Saroea. "And in L.A., Mark Mothersbaugh was kind enough to give us the ground tour of his studio, Mutato Muzika. Bob 2 met us at the door, and believe it or not, he actually referred to himself as Bob 2."
Saroea can sing whatever nerdy nonsense he wants because he makes plenty of sexy time, especially with the bad-ass bass line of the single "Fa-Fa-Fa." What did left-footed indie hipsters ever do to deserve a song dripping with so much funk, soul, and sex that it could knock Bootsy Collins off his platforms? "I need a hit/I need a hit of nutrition/If you want to whip me into shape/I need a plan or mission," Saroea commands as if penning a health-club jingle. These aren't fighting words; they're what you hear during Jazzercise. And on "Sex Me Up," he goes a step further by proclaiming, "On my hands and knees/On your command, I'll freeze." Now, we don't wanna know what all the giving and receiving is about on "Night Flight to Uranus" — loads of Bow Wow Wow tribal drumming, available only on the CD's import version — but it got us hot under our hoodies just the same.
The album culminates with the postcoital, snuggly "The Most Beautiful Girl," which has Saroea swapping spit with Norwegian pop star Annie. This is a duet so cheesy it's as if the two are lying between slices of bread over a hot pan. Actually it's not a love song so much as a verbal molestation that'll make you feel soiled and impure.
Datarock's shows are infamous for having as many as 30 people onstage. So who knows? Saroea might call upon you to make muskrat love.