CD Review of Destroy Rock & Roll by Mylo

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Destroy Rock & Roll
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Released: 2006
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Mylo’s Destroy Rock & Roll has been touted as one of the best electronic records of the decade since its release in the UK….two years ago. Those who refused to fork out the bookoo bucks on an import copy were dying to hear it, but also apprehensive, and rightfully so. After all, if the album is so good, why on earth won’t anyone release it?

I cannot answer that last question, but I can tell you that there is a reason that Destroy Rock & Roll’s reputation precedes it so. The album positively kills, moving from luscious soundscapes to Daft Punk-style cut ‘n paste beat tracks in seamless fashion. If Moby and Daft Punk, instead of releasing their disappointing 2005 albums (Hotel and Human After All, respectively), decided to work together, synthesizing the core strengths of each into one beautiful, sad, and occasionally booty shaking record, it would sound a lot like Destroy Rock & Roll. At least, if they were very lucky and worked really hard, it would.

The overall Moby/Daft Punk ratio of Destroy is about three parts Play to one part Discovery, meaning those moody, atmospheric pieces that made Moby a household name rule the roost. Leadoff track “Valley of the Dolls,” which sports a sample from the sequel to the title track, not the original, uses a three-note bass line – with one note getting three times as much play as the other two – and a string section riff to remarkable effect. “Sunworshipper” has a breezy, Air-like quality to it, placing a loopy quote from what sounds like a hippie bicyclist over a smoove Rhodes piano bit. The album’s best downbeat moment, though, is “Need You Tonite,” which reworks “Stay with Me until Dawn” from Judie Tzuke (!) into a heartbreaking mope-pop masterpiece. He even makes his own version of “Bodyrock” with “Drop the Pressure,” a spicy little number with the repetitive but catchy vocal line that gets Vocoded into the stratosphere. The song even pops up later in a mash-up with Miami Sound Machine’s “Dr. Beat.” Sounds crazy, but it works.

Ironically, it’s the moments that were clearly made to shake your groove thing that weigh the album down. The album’s title track is one of those List Songs, where some bored female singers say “Destroy” every other beat while Mylo (Myles MacInnes to his mother) reads a laundry list of MTV heavyweights…from 1984. Destroy Bonnie Tyler? What’s the point? Destroy Big Country? Their singer’s already dead, dude. Mylo’s ‘80s fetish is clear throughout the album, between the Judie Tzuke reworking (1981), the “Bette Davis Eyes”-sampling “In My Arms” (1981), and “Zenophile,” which could be an updated dub mix of George Benson’s “Give Me the Night” (1980). The title track, though, suggests that not only is Mylo obsessed with ‘80s pop, he might be trapped there.

The point is exacerbated by the second version of “Muscle Car,” which features the Freeform Five chanting, “Camaro, Seville, Camino, Daytona, Trans Am, Mustang, Charger, G.T.O.” over a supremely funked up version of what had previously been a down-tempo, moody instrumental. Are they catchy? Sure, but in the wrong hands, these songs could be used as instruments of torture, and they undermine the effectiveness of club-worthy tracks like “Rikki” and “Ottos Journey,” which are kindred spirits to Daft Punk’s “Face to Face.”

Destroy Rock & Roll will not do what its title demands – if it did, then Mylo would have nothing to sample – but it will give electronic music the kick in the nuts it so desperately needs right now. It’s unclear if Mylo will do the whole ‘sell the songs to anyone and everyone’ approach that Moby used with Play, but you can bet that soundtrack supervisors at all levels will be pillaging this album in no time. And for once, that’s a very, very good thing.

~David Medsker