El Michels Affair, Adult Themes (Big Crown) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 30th, 2020  

El Michels Affair

Adult Themes

Big Crown

May 25, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

For their first fully original album in over a decade, El Michels Affair have unleashed the fully instrumental Adult Themes: a collection of music that could have soundtracked half a dozen softcore Swedish films or newly-unearthed giallos. The cinematic quality of the record should come as no surprise, even if you’re only familiar with the group from their collaborations with the film-savvy Wu Tang Clan: Adult Themes boasts film score-like grooves that feel ripe for hip-hop sampling.   

Although the record is mostly devoid of vocals, it opens with “Enfant,” a light acoustic number led by Shacks singer Shannon Wise, who gently coos pretty noises. This beautiful track can be read in two ways, depending on your point of reference: it either calls to mind the breezy B-side of a single from Jane Birkin or another yé-yé pop singer, or is perhaps the central theme to some imaginary Jess Franco flick that probably centers on a coven of suspiciously attractive witches. If either of those descriptions conjure a sound into your head, you’re probably not far off from the mark as to what this actually sounds like. Whichever way, this is probably your jam.

Each song flows into the next, as if they’re being riffed through by a small, hipster orchestra packed together beneath a movie theater projection screen. “Kill the Lights” sets a Morricone-esque tone with its low-key string opening, but the heavy brass that overtakes it lends the song a Bond movie-esque gravity. It’s the piano line in “Villa” that gives the album its Liquid Swords-ian moment, while “Life of Pablo” could serve as a grand, sweeping theme song for the sort of ’70s Hollywood feature film that Quentin Tarantino might make up for one of his characters’ fictional backstories. The influences on Adult Themes seem to be all over the place, but half the fun of it is closing your eyes and dreaming up the movies these pieces could have been pulled from. (www.elmichelsaffair.bandcamp.com/)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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