February 14, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST


Current Status
In Season
Electronic, Pop
We gave it a C+

Europop, the Eiffel 65 album that’s been catapulted into the top 10 on the heels of the success of ”Blue (Da Ba Dee),” is nearly as eccentric as its hit. With blatant nods to the likes of Erasure and early, pre-facial-hair Depeche Mode, it may be the first album to treat old school synthesizer pop as revered roots music.

Thankfully, Eiffel 65, comprised of three Italian dance-club mavens, don’t take themselves as seriously as their predecessors. Beneath their chintzy beats and computer bleeps, the bouncy ”Living in a Bubble” and the treadmill-ready ”Move Your Body” are new-millennium bubblegum techno and disco, with Jeffrey Jey’s vocal tic (a smirking-robot sarcasm) setting the tone. It’s hard to call these songs timeless masterpieces, but it’s also nearly impossible to hate them.

Cutesy hooks and a deadpan sense of humor constitute what little saving grace ”Europop” has. When Eiffel 65 try to play it straight, they stumble. Their tortured-soul ballad, ”Your Clown,” is drearily sullen. In ”Now Is Forever,” they muse that ”The past is all that’s gone/ The future is yet to come” — surely the most ”duh!”-inducing line in a pop song since America sang ”the heat was hot” in ”A Horse With No Name.”

Title notwithstanding, ”Dub in Life” has no hint of dub or reggae but is a generic dance tune with a Studio 54 bass line. Moreover, ”Europop” could easily have been reduced to an EP: The threesome (Jey, keyboardist Maurizio Lobina, and DJ Gabry Ponte) recycle themselves shamelessly. Several songs, like ”Hyperlink (Deep Down)” and ”Another Race,” employ the same vocal and production devices as ”Blue (Da Ba Dee),” but to lesser effect. There’s even an unnecessary remix of the single tacked onto the album.

Ultimately, the most fascinating element of the eminently disposable but intermittently amusing ”Europop” is entirely unexpected: its lyrics. The music’s programmed vibe isn’t the only indication that this is an album made by children of the digital age. The word ”hyperlink” is used not only in a song title but as a sexual pun (”a hyperlink to go inside of you”); ”My Console” is such an undisguised celebration of a Sony PlayStation it could double as a jingle; and the line ”all I want is a silicon world” is communicated with utter sincerity. This is music that stems not just from computers but from computer culture. Why the album isn’t called ”Byte Down Hard” is even more of a mystery than why a novelty Italian club act named itself after a French monument.

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