Five years ago, Electric Guest released ‘This Head I Hold‘ and I saw them play it live at a small venue in Sydney called Oxford Arts Factory. The crowd, if I recall correctly, was a strange mix of hipster bros and skater types and music industry heads and waifish, alternative girls. The setting seemed appropriate for a band that had seemingly come out of nowhere with what I determined to be one of the catchiest songs of 2012. Their entire debut, ‘Mondo’, had been produced by Danger Mouse, which explained why the tinkling keys of the retro groove snapped so tightly, and yet, Electric Guest was an enigma. Faced with the decision of whether to buy a band tee, for sale sale for some appropriately humble price, I opted against out of 1) a concern for my student budget, and 2) an unshakable feeling that this band was a one hit wonder, and thus the cultural cachet of said garment would diminish on walking out of the venue, not unlike a new car.
I was wrong. But you could be excused for thinking I was right. Between their 2012 debut and last year’s follow-up, ‘Plural’, was nothing but dead air – a yawning abyss into which any memory of Electric Guest and their funky, off-beat style should, in all feasible renditions of the half decade, have been swallowed up. Instead, it was last week in Montreal, when friend D suggested he’d had enough of my Spotify and unpaired my phone from our monster truck’s Bluetooth to jam his own new favourite track, that Electric Guest came rushing back into view as if they’d never left. It might have had something to do with the sub-zero temperature, or the too-many drinks the night before, but I was crazy into the song. ‘What is this?!’ I yelled over a bumping dancehall chorus. ‘Electric something’, he responded. They were back.
Maybe the reason I thought I’d lost them in the meantime is because it is so hard to positively define Electric Guest. I guess they have a bassist, a drummer, the charismatic Asa Taccone on vocals (brother of Lonely Island’s Jorma, in case you were wondering) and a keys man, but beyond that, they sort of evade categorization. The closest approximation I’ve seen is that Electric Guest is the offspring of Sir Sly and Foster The People. But in the way that Electric Guest has none of the industriousness of those bands and instead relies on audience appetite for its unusual brand of indie pop, it is something else. ‘Oh Devil’, like ‘This Head I Hold’ before it, is one of the most eminently danceable tracks of the year. So who cares if it takes them five years between hits. Next time, I’m buying a tshirt.
Electric Guest – Oh Devil