Aeroplane - We Can't Fly

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Aeroplane have proven to be one of the most interesting electronic acts in recent years, trailblazing the nu-disco genre, and attaining generous crossover appeal with their chilled-out grooves and luscious production values.

It was with concern then the dance music community learned the Belgian duo were breaking up, with Vito De Luca announcing in June that bandmate Stephen Fasano would be departing and “leaving him in charge of the baby”.

Despite stressing that the reason for the split was “not to destroy it, but to make it last” and that he’d been “responsible for most of the music and studio work”, Aeroplane fans were rightly alarmed. Fear not, as We Can’t Fly, the group’s debut full-length album, is nothing short of a resounding success; full of pop oddities, laidback funk grooves and soaring piano epics.

From the opening strains of the cinematic Mountains of Moscow, rich with ‘80s keyboard action, we know we’re onto a good thing. The titular We Can’t Fly embraces a gospel vocal with a space-Carribbean edge, before Superstar sets heads a bopping with its Daft Punk-esque robotic vocals layered over upbeat piano. And The Point of No Return is an album highlight, if only because it recalls Blade Runner; the score climaxing in an orgy of melancholic strings and whiny synths.

London Bridge and I Don’t Feel are sultry affairs resplendent with Mod Squad guitar riffs intercut with chunky synths. They neatly exemplify Aeroplane’s appeal – the rich, full sound of the ‘70s spiced with deep, spacey beats. I Don’t Feel proves the standout of the album; full of drama and intrigue, Merry Clayton’s beefy diva vocals expertly contrasted with a grungy, low-slung guitar and overarching James Bond aesthetic.

But this is the Aeroplane we already know, and De Luca wants to take us to new destinations; namely indie-pop ditties. Without Lies, featuring Sky Ferreira, wouldn’t be out of place in a Frankie magazine tribute album, while Good Riddance feels like a cross between Nick Cave and the True Blood theme. The album concludes with the utterly magnificent We Fall Over, featuring Au Revoir Simone, which twinkles and sighs in all the right places – a genuine pop masterpiece.

Aeroplane may have lost a pilot, but they certainly haven’t lost their way. And We Can’t Fly is a must-do trip this summer.

We Can’t Fly is out now on Eskimo Recordings/Balance Music through EMI.

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