What happens when you cross a Ra Ra Riot and a Vampire Weekend? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot of experimental indie-synth.
They called themselves Discovery, a limited stint started by two guitarists: Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles. The two had never done anything like it before, but soon, they had put together an LP that drew many question marks in the music community.
Created in 2005, Discovery spent four years recording LP, which provides music that’s heavy on the hi-hat, handclaps and beginner synths, barely surpassing 30-minutes in length. The band was critically reviewed as a half-assed duo in a room full of expensive equipment putting out a record they called an “experiment.” Discovery never experimented live, and didn’t have to. Thanks to XL Recording, one of the most commercially successful independent labels in the world, the band was provided with the necessary budget.
Strictly taking in the music, the album is a fun collection of sounds and styles with a 50/50 approach to vocals. “Orange Shirt” and “Swing Tree” easily bring listeners to joy with upbeat tones and light melodies. “So Insane” details the simple story of a cutesy boy and girl who can’t stop thinking about each other. The classic themes make Discovery’s tunes harmless because the lyrics don’t cross any substantial barriers.
Sadly, the actual sound quality is sub-par. “I Want You Back,” a Jackson 5 cover, fails by employing the ever-patronized science of Auto-Tune. Discovery also features another musician’s work in the Angel Derdoorian (Dirty Projectors) collaboration, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” Unfortunately, the song shamefully lolls through two and a half minutes of odd basslines and overly repetitive and eccentric vocals. Discovery included other artists on the record, but didn’t make exceptional music with them.
So, was Discovery simply a presumption made by a few cocky guitarists? Perhaps the group’s name was penned because the duo had intended to create musical magic, essentially “discovering” an entire sound that had never been produced before.
Maybe it was the opposite, since the project was low-budgeted, minimally promoted and quietly distributed. Started as a hobby between two friends involved in music, it could be a side project that was never intended to make waves, donning a sarcastic name for a production that might never become revolutionary. Either way, the duo left behind the familiar, ditching the perfectly orchestrated and postured indie pop of Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot in favor for hip-hop beats and R&B influences.
LP hits all the marks it’s supposed to, featuring a number of rhythms that are smooth and easy to rock with, and it’s not difficult to envision a few of them on top 40 radio stations. Yet, it lacks consistency. Certain tracks like “It’s Not My Fault (It’s My Fault)” and “Slang Tang” fail to offer anything new or worthwhile.
A good album is full of hits, none of which deserved to be skipped. Each song on Discovery’s disc is an exhausting tug of war between hit and miss, making LP a fun “fling” to groove with, once the hot messes are forgotten.