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Looking at the track list for Friendly Fires’ turn at the helm of the Late Night Tales love boat is like embarking on a baffling game of Six Degrees Of Separation – just how do you get from Junior Boys to Olivia Newton-John via early 80s disco, SBTRKT and Cocteau Twins? But the St Albans electro-popsters pull it off, exhibiting a smart taste in music that steers the right side of user-friendliness as they do so. From that JB kick-off point, the slo-mo electro glam stomp of ‘Under The Sun’, a clutch of 80s cosmic disco tracks glide by.
There’s some serious crate-digging going on here – anyone heard the wah-wah-fuelled disco rock of ‘Change Your Style’ by Dutch group Renée before? Better known is the string-filled high camp of ‘Fly Like An Eagle’ by porn star turned singer Dennis Parker, a big influence of Nordic heavyweight Todd Terje. Canada’s Iron Galaxy then brings things bang up to date with the glacial, ultra deep house of ‘Attention Seeker’. It’s the only standard slice of 4/4 business on the album – though it feels like a cohesive dance mix for most of it. Those doyens of the avant-garde pop scene, Stereolab, make an appearance with the jerky Gallic lounge-pop of ‘The Black Arts’, segueing into SBTRKT’s smouldering urban electronic gem, ‘Hold On’.
FF exclusive ‘Why Don’t You Answer’ is a shimmering cover of an, ahem, Sting track, with dreamy synth chords and a rotor-blade rhythm before the bubbling, ethereal, quirky pop of ‘Embassy’ by Laurel Halo signifies a change in approach. It’s backed up with the presence of tracks by Scottish indie swoonsters Cocteau Twins and Slowdive. The melancholic spaced-out folk of Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Love Song’ and Nils Frahm’s ‘Over There It’s Raining’ bring an end to the 30th edition of Late Night Tales, one that’s perfectly pitched in selection, mood and execution.