The Asteroids Galaxy Tour must have really loved “Jackie Brown” or something, because their second album is Tarantinoesque through and through. Do you really think we would have ’70s pastiche bands without “Pulp Fiction”? (Rhetorical.)
First and foremost, this Danish pop band is all about the horn section. While listening to “Out of Frequency,” do not be alarmed if you find yourself swaggering down a Harlem street in a floor-length leather duster with no idea how you got there. The ballsy brass separates the band from other some other acts with funk on their minds. There’s an undeniable power here that may lead to fists being pumped.
Vocally, Mette Lindburg sounds like Robyn with her IKEA Emotion Circuit™ removed. Her cool, sardonic style is a little grating at first, but on repeated listens, she finds a way to bore into your head. Rihanna has built a career off of sounding droll, so I’m not surprised that the approach could work in a Danish retro pop outfit. There is variation: At times, Lindburg sounds just as brassy as the band.
“Gold Rush, Pt. 1,” of which, yes, there is a part two, serves its purpose to get you into the zone. I do question the choice to put “Dollars in the Night” as the first full vocal track, as Lindburg sounds her most nasal on the otherwise fun track.
There’s no doubt in my mind that “Major” is the best song here, with a hook that wants to be your friend forever. I want to write a stylish crime thriller just to use this in a montage of morally ambiguous characters pulling a heist. The song’s cries of “major ambition” could just as easily apply to the album as a whole.
“Heart Attack” steps away from the retro theme ever so slightly and into more conventional indie dance pop territory. Don’t be surprised if it shows up in an iPod commercial. The force of the Ting Tings is strong in this one.
The title track sounds like a James Bond theme by way of a reggae festival. “Out of Frequency” is light on horns, but heavy on synthy pleasures, and guys: There is a flute solo. That’s badass. “Cloak and Dagger” is the Lana Del Rey song that Lana Del Rey wishes she was singing. Speaking of heists, I dare you not to rob a casino after listening to this.
The most fun “Out of Frequency” has to offer is later in the album. “Mafia” may err on the side of repetition, but it’s bubbly and gleeful and darn it, it has a creepy vocal distortion breakdown that sounds like Tom Waits is choking on a rubber glove, and yet it’s still SO FUN. Later, “Suburban Space Invader” telegraphs its enjoyability a mile away. It’s title doesn’t need my help to sell it. “Fantasy Friend Forever” would not sound out of place in a performance on “Laugh In,” and I think my shoes turned into go-go boots the first time I listened to it.
Forget “Pulp Fiction”: “Out of Frequency” is the “Grindhouse” of Danish pop albums. It is a referential, winking nod to a bygone era of cinema soundtracks. And like any good homage, it doesn’t get bogged down in emulation and has plenty of fresh thrills to offer. Like Fitz and the Tantrums, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour masterfully pulls off retro with a modern execution — and in the case of “Out of Frequency,” a healthy dose of outer space flair.
(5) “Heart Attack”
(6) “Out of Frequency”
(12) “Fantasy Friend Forever”