December 15, 2009 - Ultra
In order for a remix album to work on anything other than a crate-digging beathead or hedonist dancefloor-prompt level the songs you're working with have to have enough going on internally to withstand the barrage of editing, condensing, rearranging and recontextualizing that efforts like this entail. For electro/dance-rock mainstays Shiny Toy Guns, the function has always been as vital as the form. That is to say they're not a sound-driven outfit who write songs, and they're not songwriters who simply color around the edges with ex post facto production tricks--they're somewhere right in the middle of that equation. Songs like fan favorites "Rainy Monday" and "Le Disko" provide enough substance in terms of both vocals, hooks, guitars, and/or distinctive crunching synths to be chopped up into a thousand little pieces. When the base is solid, a remix usually won't end up being a case of perpetually diminish returns. On the other hand, filter nothing through a strainer enough times and you end up with nothing.
That said, this collection of career spanning remixes and a few unreleased originals mostly disappoints. While Alexander Ridha (aka Boys Noize) ups the glitchy quotient of "Le Disko" with a swirling synth buzzsaw, chopping out the vocals and turning up the loops quashes the song's sassy fun. Ferry Cortsen fairs better on a second "Le Disko" remix, lengthening the canvas of the song, giving it more room to breathe. Likewise, the emotive "Rainy Monday" gets treated for both good and ill. Herve splices the earnest guitar track into a thumping house waste that wipes away most of the original's new-wave charm. Just because you can pull the hook, echo it, stutter it and add a cheeseball four-on-the-floor party beat doesn't mean that you should. The Bimbo Jones radio edit version included here brings down the guitar punch of the original, but maintains at least some semblance of the general forward momentum and groove. Elsewhere BT, Kissy Sell Out and the Teenagers bring out the knife, to varying degrees of success. Fans will be excited to have longtime live staple "Rocketship" in CD form for the first time, as well as the band's otherworldly industrial dance cover of Peter Schilling's "Major Tom." That soaring '80s space disco update alone almost makes the record worth it. Otherwise you're probably better off going back to We Are Pilots and listening to the originals. You could already dance to them anyway, but at least with those mixes you could also feel something while you did.