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Chromeo: eighties homage and pure humour

Chromeo likes to refer to themselves as “the only successful Arab/Jewish collaboration in history,” according to Wikipedia. The tongue-in-cheek comparison is a testament to the electrofunk duo’s signature blend of humour and gravitas, that they bring with them on their current (and so far highly successful) tour. Chromeo is comprised of Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch (also known as P-Thugg and Dave 1), both Montreal natives who currently split their time between Montreal and New York, where Macklovitch is a Ph.D. candidate in French lit.

Since they released their first album in 2004, they’ve graduated from a niche indie audience to mainstream popularity. Chromeo was MTV’s “Artist of the Week” early last October, and Fancy Footwork, the pair’s second album, made Amazon’s Best of 2007. They’re stopping in Montreal today as part of their Two Steppin’ tour, before heading to Ottawa and on to the UK.

Although Chromeo’s second album is a little smoother and less blatantly funny than 2004’s She’s in Control, the band hasn’t strayed far from its roots, and early songs such as “Needy Girl” are still fairly representative of the band’s work. Most songs have a classic electro sound combined with entertaining lyrics, which range from the Freudian – “I think she reminds me of my mother and she knows I like it/ I want a woman with the same brown eyes,” to the bizarre and poppy – “She’s a needy girl, and she wants my world.” But while their comical take on eighties pop conventions may seem like mockery, it’s actually their roundabout way of rendering homage to the decade. As Macklovitch said last summer in an interview with CBC’s André Mayer, “When you do a satire of something, or when you do a parody or pastiche, there’s usually an underlying criticism. When you do humour, there’s not. It can be funny, and not have this underlying contempt.”

Chromeo plays tonight at Le National (1220 Ste. Catherine E). Doors are at 8 p.m.