There's a nice song somewhere inside "Photoshop Handsome," a 2009 single from the Manchester band Everything Everything. The melody takes some elated swoops and turns, and no one can accuse the music--a synthy, militant disco march--of lacking in energy. The problem is the lyrics: it's hard to form an emotional connection with couplets like "Chest pumped elegantly elephantine / Southern hemisphere by Calvin Klein." The guys in Everything Everything want to indict a culture that's obsessed with image, but their self-consciously clever phrases come off as just another kind of posturing.
The London brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, who record as Disclosure, find a simple solution to this problem. On their remix of "Photoshop Handsome," they add a throbbing kick drum and then fade the vocal track in and out in time with it. It's there and gone, there and gone, revealed and concealed as if by a sort of aural strobe light. You can still hear a human voice, and get some kind of emotional read from it, but it's hard to make out the lyrics unless you already know them. Meanwhile, the music is given a chance to stretch out and display itself, and it takes on a nervy urgency it was possible to miss before. The Lawrence brothers manage to turn a cerebral pop tune into one heavy with feeling; they do it not by adding something, but by taking something away.
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