By: Jamie Reysen
After years of touring, remixing tracks, and producing original material, electro duo Manufactured Superstars, comprised of Brad Roulier and Shawn Sabo, released their debut album, Freak On You, late last month. The duo, whose sound has been described as “accessible party music,” certainly lives up to the phrase with this long-awaited release.
These DJs, who met through their mutual involvement with EDM mega-distributor Beatport) began touring for fun back in 2005, striving to produce music that makes people want to dance. Their debut album definitely meets that goal, and I’m glad it does – after all, shouldn’t all party music be accessible to the masses?
Freak On You features a host of female singers, who contribute memorable vocal hooks to the album’s tracks. The debut single “Take Me Over,” featuring UK singer Scarlett Quinn, set the stage for this album when it was released back in May. The track’s melodic, easygoing electro beats compliment Quinn’s catchy, pop lyrics to create the kind of song that will have you bopping your head and tapping your feet.
“Take Me Over” immediately became a hit amongst fellow producers; it’s been remixed by a number of DJs, and Roulier and Sabo include two of those mixes on their album. The first, Bingo Players’ remix, is the ultimate dance track. House duo Bingo Players borrows only bits and pieces of Quinn’s vocals, putting the emphasis on a heavy rhythm and speedy electro beats. The second, J Flash and Tyler Blue’s dubstep remix, begins on an interesting note with a sped-up tempo, but the wompy drop feels a bit out of place to me. Regardless, no matter what the listeners’ electronic music preference is, there’s probably at least one version of “Take Me Over” on this album that will appeal to them.
“Serious,” featuring Denver-based jazz vocalist Selina Albright, is one of the strongest songs on Freak On You; it’s been stuck in my head all week. Manufactured Superstars alternate between an electro-house rhythm that builds with Albright’s vocals and a simple, deliberate piano section that lends seriousness to the track.
Calvin Harris transforms the relatable lyrics and catchy melody of the original “Serious” into a beats-driven dance club remix. The track’s minimal vocal samples and manipulated chorus accent the overall production, but the beats-driven rhythm tells the story, channeling the frenetic feeling of falling hard and fast.
“Dance With You,” featuring Molly Cottrell, is another great track off of Freak On You. Given the remix-heavy nature of this release, it was a little disappointing that there wasn’t a remix of this track on the album. Two “Take Me Over” remixes, but not one “Dance With You” edit? Come on, guys.
From a thematic standpoint, two songs stand out among the rest. The first is “Happy Panda,” a minimal house track that gradually builds. Though the duo integrates a recurring “Happy Panda” vocal sampling, it’s one of only two tracks on the album that doesn’t feature a guest vocalist.
The other track is a Save the Robot remix of Manufactured Superstars’ “Angry Circus.” It’s a great addition to Freak On You, twisting the classic motto of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey into something sinister, but fun.
Freak On You is a solid release for the Manufactured Superstars, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Listen to the album on Beatport, and if you can, catch them on tour this winter – the team is best known for their bruising live performances.
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