Mr. Meeble: Never Trust the Chinese

Downtempo is a tricky sub-genre of electronic music. Everyone wants to be Massive Attack or the Orb and deliver the end-all-be-all of post-club chill out. But if you take it too chill and relaxing, then the next thing you know you’re Dirty Vegas, or even worse, easy listening or New Age. It’s a fine line. On their offensively-named debut Never Trust the Chinese, Mr. Meeble tread that line like a tightrope, showing signs of sedative brilliance before tripping and falling off into the safety net of “Days Go By” derivatives. It opens great, through; “Raindrops” is a pretty out-there cover of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” that combines the ’70s cheese fest with occasional interludes of cut-up glitched vocals and an even more out-of-place rapping coda. It’s not exactly perfect, but it’s certainly unique. Other tracks, like the overly aggressive “A Ton Of Bricks” (apt name: it hits you like one) are jarring and obvious attempts for mainstream appeal that come off as soulless and empty.

All of Never Trust the Chinese is like this, going back and forth between the experimental and boring, the edgy and safe. This is a band of two minds, so much so that they even split up a song to demonstrate them both. “Everything Is Good (Part 1)” is an album highlight, a mostly instrumental sonic soundscape that engulfs you. But second part blows it all to hell by removing much of what made the first part so good and replacing them with dry, vapid and tone-deaf vocals. Never Trust the Chinese has all the trappings of a debut album by a band who has not yet found their sound. These guys need to throw a desire for a Top 40 fanbase to the wind and stick to the fringe, because they’ll definitely thrive there. (Absolute Motion 2008)

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