James Figurine: Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake
Plug Research

Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake (the words James Figurine chanted to the beats while working on the tracks) is a veritable master class in electronic pop songcraft. In fact, anyone who figured Ben Gibbard was the one primarily responsible for The Postal Service's infectious material may wish to modify that view after hearing this superb hour-long set by Gibbard's PS partner Jimmy Tamborello (aka Dntel).

Influenced by clubby electronic releases like Kompakt's Total 3, Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake inhabits a middle ground between electro-pop and techno on many tracks, sometimes aligning itself with one more than the other (notwithstanding the subtle hint of a vocoder, “Ruining the Sundays” is more techno while “555666888333” and the buoyant shuffle “Apologies” are clearly electro-pop). Though lyrically a rumination on technological miscommunication (text messaging et al.), instrumentally the gloriously pulsating “555666888333” exemplifies no such confusion, with Tamborello's whispered vocal nicely sweetened by the repetition of Sonya Westcott's mantra-like counting. Despite its generally deadpan character, Tamborello's singing is appealing, especially when delivered in his customary whisper, a humanizing complement to the songs' electronic arrangements. In addition, Kings of Convenience's Erland Øye adds a relaxed croon to the gorgeous “All the Way to China,” and PS compadre and Rilo Kiley member Jenny Lewis sweetens “You Again” with a well-timed squeal and sigh. Morgan Meyn Nagler's soft entreaty “Don't walk away” graces the deliciously funky “Pretend It's a Race and I'm on Your Side,” one of two songs Tamborello co-wrote with John Tejada, while “Leftovers” gravitates towards the sleek techno of Tejada's Logic Memory Center (to which Tamborello contributed). A delight from start to finish, one initially wonders why more albums like Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake aren't being issued before the obvious explanation hits: the ability to create such ravishing, hook-filled material is a rare gift few possess.

July 2006