After a handful of records, a brush with the Prix Ars Electronica, and a solid 7 years of existence, the relative obscurity of DAT Politics continues to be a slightly baffling footnote to their career. The once-uncomfortable harshness of their sound has over time become a key component of the French trio’s colourful, computer-gamey style, and Are Oui Phony? may well be the record which fully marries this sonic vocabulary to the pop form. With its 7 tracks racking up a total of just under 22 minutes, one even begins to suspect that the group are taking on the 3 minute pop song as their brief. Using cheap instruments, basic computers and keyboard presets, they are in some ways the essential throwaway pop group, taken to an extreme.
The songs on Are Oui Phony? will sound familiar to anyone familiar with DAT Politics’ work over the last three or four years, engendering a thin, at times brittle hyperactivity, articulated through tightly clipped synths, cheekily processed vocals, and incredibly catchy beats. There’s digital processing everywhere, but it’s so ubiquitous that beyond a few listens, it hardly sticks out. The opener, ‘Step Back’, kicks things off in an infectious way, with the rest of the record following suit.
What now remains between DAT Politics and wider appreciation – promotion issues aside, of course – might be their vocal sound. Indeed, it isn’t really the audio processing that’s awkward, but rather that the persistence of some vocal motifs can be annoying at first. At times – as on the otherwise pleasing ‘Amazing Dan’ – one longs for the Tracto Flirt-era of instrumentals. That said, it’s by no means problematic through the entire record, which is a welcome addition to the group’s groundbreaking and at times breathtaking oeuvre. Besides which – one begins to appreciate said vocals after a little patience and some sustained attention. The only issue with that being… well, it’s pop.