It seems to me that Mount Kimbie released their debut LP at the exact wrong time. With already great to excellent releases from electronic artists Toro y Moi, Flying Lotus and Guido this year alone, I can't help but compare every track of Crooks & Lovers in some way to the hazy glo fi of the first, the skittery IDM of the second or the conservative dubset of the third.
This doesn't necessarily preclude a good listening experience. But, for anyone who has heard the newest albums from any of the three artists I just mentioned, Crooks & Lovers will smack of unoriginality.
What does sound original on Crooks & Lovers is the implementation of unique percussion styles. The foundation of "Before I Move Off", for example, is comprised of the clicking of one's tongue against the roof of their mouth at different frequencies. The groove of "Carbonated" sounds to me like the dropping of a pebble into a puddle and the repeated flicking of a carpet. "Ruby" sounds like a game of table tennis is being played throughout the duration of the song, and, oh look at that! Flying Lotus already did that on his song "Table Tennis" ("But, Paul. You can't honestly think that just because Flying Lotus had the sound of table tennis in his song you can fault everyone else who does it on their album." In fact I can. Few artists can lay claim to that playing style, and FlyLo pretty much perfected it on his album.). However intriguing these production tics can get, they might as well be filed under "Wow Factor" for their failure to compensate for an album's worth of material.
By the end of Crooks & Lovers, we do get to see Mount Kimbie come into their own with a sound purely theirs. "Mayor", "Between Time" and the last minute and fifteen seconds of "Field" all hint at the duo's unique composition abilities, and might make for a good album if expanded on a future release.
If Crooks & Lovers proves to be the album where Mount Kimbie get their footing and name out there, I will be more than happy with that. The album's final seven minutes show that the group has the potential to be a reckoning force in modern electronic music. I look forward to seeing what the group comes up with next, but am a little frustrated at how little Crooks &Lovers will maintain that enthusiasm until then.