I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about Baskerville, but there is plenty to stimulate your eardrums throughout ‘Strongroom’, the second offering from the Dutch duo under their current guise.
While album opener ‘Northam’ deliciously ebbs and flows, ‘Black Out’ is a considerable sidestep, binning the throbbing bass and slinking into LCD Soundsystem-inhabited territory – and it’s all the better for it. ‘Britefoot’ is a return to formula, before ‘Lightminded’ reminds us what the pair can actually do when cut loose, a gloriously sluggish synth that shimmers amongst subtle percussion.
It’s a disappointment to find that the remaining tracks are shackled by a stifling paint-by-numbers format. ‘The Fuss’ desperately attempts to scuffle up some sort of fanfare but falls embarrassingly short, whereas ‘Knucklehead’ hints at concealing the album’s sucker punch, despite languishing over the same limp beat for too long. ‘Penguin Love’ is pleasant enough, a woozy vocal underpinned by icy, meandering synths, but too many tracks feel like fragments snatched from other records, their progression never feeling cohesive enough to resemble anything complete.
You can’t help but sense that Strongroom could have sounded less muddled if Baskerville stopped rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tiesto and discarded the monotonous blueprint that they seem to scrutinise so religiously. Then, and only then, can the duo really thrive.