With female-fronted electro-pop currently doing rather well in fashionable circles, fortune might have favoured this latest release from London-based duo Client (aka ex-Frazier Chorus member Kate Holmes, wife of Creation Records founder Alan McGee, and Sarah Blackwood, formerly of Dubstar). Perhaps best known for their connections to the likes of Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore and ex-Libertines Carl Barat and Pete Doherty (all of whom failed to prop up Client’s lacklustre second album City) than for their overall output, the band continue to defy naysaying critics by sustaining a core fanbase with a constant stream of releases and club remixes. Not to mention their ability to work an air hostess/prison guard uniform with style, which has made them rather popular in Germany. With 2007′s Heartland finally shedding some warmth on their icy cool remove, Command moves back into the shade with a set of songs billed as “strictly dirty”.
As 21st century seduction goes, however, it’s about as titillating as a grimy dishcloth, despite getting off to a good start with the catchy, sultry offering of ‘Your Love Is Like Petrol’. One could be forgiven for working up some initial excitement at the powerful early-electro sound so brilliantly created with shimmering keyboards and lovely harmony vocals, and it’s surprisingly easy to overlook the fact that the lyrics are rather predictable because they sound so current. “Your lips are like petrol / I’m burning up,” drawls Blackwood, as faithful inhabitants of dimly lit corners in a Berlin Diskothek hanker for a beat they can pose elegantly to. So it’s not that Client aren’t good at what they do, merely that what they are doing holds so few surprises and isn’t anything that acts like La Roux, for one, aren’t doing better (comparisons with the Pet Shop Boys or The Human League don’t sit right when said bands are still doing the occasional tour, ergo still doing it better).
Despite Client’s best efforts, Command never really progresses beyond the impressive opener. There’s no sense of pacing, no twists and turns to maintain interest. The rest of the album more or less sticks to an even tempo; nothing particularly startling, nothing particularly offensive. While there is no denying that first single ‘Make Me Believe In You’ could be a dancefloor anthem, the album lacks the risqué element it needs to elevate it above the functionally mundane. Even when ‘Don’t Run Away’ threatens to develop into the album standout, starting out with enticing, film-noir atmospherics, it ends up falling flat and dull at the final reel. Sex undoubtedly sells, but if you’re into more than just the missionary position, you might be better off looking elsewhere for your kicks. Because ‘command’ this really does not.
[Loser Friendly; June 15, 2009]