Track of the Day: 'Outside the Lines (Data Romance Remix)'

By Alex Eichler

Past TracksSmokey Robotic made today's song; Data Romance tweaked it. I can't give you much information about Smokey Robotic, because they're one of those groups where every member goes by a stage name and the official band biography is a cutesy creation myth. ("The story goes that a woman walked in who was so shockingly beautiful, and somehow dangerous, that the bartender stuttered when he poured her a shot." Etc.) For what it's worth, I can tell you that Data Romance is a guy-and-girl production team from Vancouver, and that they do a nice job of turning Smokey Robotic's original track, a peppy rave-up, into something darker and more conflicted.

Smokey's version of "Outside the Lines" isn't bad, per se, but it doesn't have much more than one dimension: it's a song about going out and having a good time, and it's set to a bouncy, major-key dance beat. These elements aren't exactly in tension. Data Romance swaps out this music for a seething, New-Wave synth line and a snare mixed so low it barely registers. Somehow, this has the curious effect of making the singer sound like he doesn't actually want to hit the club tonight.

You can hear it on the opening lines--"Call on my brother, tell him pick me up and let's ride / It's Friday night, I'm twitching, I can't stay inside." The guy sounds glum, ambivalent, almost resigned to a night out; it's as though he knows the only thing worse than going out is staying in with himself. Suddenly this is a much more interesting song. Smokey Robotic's vision of uncomplicated fun has something to recommend it, but Data Romance's blend of desire and agitation feels closer to real life.


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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/03/track-of-the-day-outside-the-lines-data-romance-remix/72158/