Last time we heard from Digital Leather they had me doing my best Molly Ringwald dance while kicking in the window of a police cruiser, their latest effort Modern Problems still has me dancing with the reckless abandon of a cutter but without all the ragey adrenaline. It’s all hips and head movement with the occasional self embrace that makes my family uncomfortable, and now that it is public knowledge, kills any hope for future employment.
This is in no way a bad thing.
If anything it is a slightly more nuanced version of everything I came to love about Digital Leather and their snuggly dance punk. You still get the brilliant melodies, the luscious choruses and epically infectious songs wrapped up in the slight warp and drag effect that makes Digital Leather’s music seem like it is a long lost cassette that you played the shit out of in the 80s. The effect is as comforting as it is quaint. I fucking love it. It makes me feel like I unearthed some sort of artifact of a past I didn’t know I had.
With Modern Problems, Digital Leather feels like it has made a bit of a leap from the two speeds of Sponge, you still get the dancy/punky goodness of tracks like Young Doctors in Love, Decoys, Thrill Is Gone, Soup and Feeding Frenzy; but you also get some additional shades/sides of Digital Leather aka Shawn Foree. Whether it is the grizzled interpretation of 80s power pop on Hot Bubblegum, P’s Dream, Enzymes or Sweet Cheeks that sound like Rick Springfield if he was into speed and cheap liquor or the synth goth approach of I’m A Faerie the new sides are equally exciting and in a lot of ways add depth to the character I have built up in my mind.
When you throw in lo-fi Pavement meets Nirvana-esque Door, or my favorite track on the album The Man With No Emotion you get a real sense of the genius of Digital Leather. Modern Problems, at least for me, shows huge growth and development, and has me even more excited about this bastard than I was a few months ago. Back then it was cute, now it is just creepy.