Nobody would call Chromeo virtuosic, but few contemporary acts have been able to capture dance music in a fun and catchy way as well as this Montreal-based, electro-funk duo has. Their second LP, Fancy Footwork added memorable hooks and more polished sounds to the ironic sense of humor and strong rhythms they exhibited on their debut, She’s in Control. The result was a small masterpiece in the world of hipster pop art.
Now, slightly a year past its release, Fancy Footwork has received “deluxe edition” repackaging in the form of the two-disc Fancier Footwork. The re-release might seem a bit hasty, but, considering the additional material it contains, coupled with its relatively low price in a world where most deluxe album reissues sell for close to thirty dollars (Amazon has it listed for only fifty cents more than the original version at $14.49), the existence of Fancier Footwork seems not only reasonable, but almost like a gift to consumers.
Fancier Footwork’s first disc contains the original, 11-track album, as well as some enhanced content featuring five music videos. On the second disc, three tracks from She’s in Control (“Needy Girl”, “Rage!”, and “You’re So Gangsta”) are followed by their collaboration with France’s DJ Mehdi (“I Am Somebody”) and nine remixes of various songs off each of Chromeo’s two albums. Coming from the likes of MSTRKRFT, Crookers, Lifelike, Yusek, Whitey, Playgroup, DFA, Laidback, and Jori Hulkkonen, these are all actually worthwhile remixes. There are no lazy beats thrown behind original vocals; for the most part, they change the entire character of their respective songs.
The good thing about this deluxe edition is that it will attract both current fans and those interested in acquainting themselves with Chromeo’s sound. For the serious fans, purchasing this reissue will mean buying 14 tracks all over again. For them, the Mehdi track and the remixes, most of which were previously hard to find, will be the true treasure of this release, and the single-disc price tag more than justifies the repeat purchase. For a casual fan, the appeal is simple. Given that Fancy Footwork, in all its catchiness, is probably the best starting point for someone interested in Chromeo, if one goes to a record store and sees the original version next to this deluxe edition, with its cooler packaging and more than twice the music, the very slight price difference between the two should make the choice easy.
This could all be an attempt to capitalize on the increase in popularity and mainstream exposure Chromeo experienced when MTV made them “artist of the week” earlier this year. However, while I might have some issues with their music (the hipster irony can get old, and there’s not a whole lot of enduring artistry in their work), I can’t fault them or their label for this quick rerelease. What they have accomplished with Fancier Footwork is the most definitive collection of Chromeo’s music thus far.