With a love of talkboxes, vintage drum machines, and gleamingly plastic synth tones, Montreal electro-funk duo Chromeo looked to the deepest echelon of '80s funk and radio R&B to develop their sound.
While wearing the influence of Zapp, Prince, and even Hall & Oates on their sleeve, the pair's style would grow more refined as the years went on, with production getting more detailed as their songwriting became more nuanced. The band's homage to the greats of the dancefloor and their unbridled worship of pop found its summit on their fourth album, 2014's White Women. By then the group had fine-tuned their formula and also opened up their creative world to guest vocalists and producers, maximizing their mainstream accessibility and resulting in their highest-charting release.
Chromeo were formed in 2002 by Montreal producers David "Dave One" Macklovitch and Patrick "Pee Thug" Gemayel. Dave One took on vocal duties, though both former hip-hop producers were multi-instrumentalists and brought their love of classic funk and soul to their nascent creations. The "Destination Overdrive" single appeared in late 2003, complete with the tingling B-side "Needy Girl" (a ringer for Yaz's "Situation") and a DFA remix. The single was followed by a proper full-length debut, She's in Control, released on Vice in early February 2004. To satiate their fans between records, Chromeo issued two mixes, 2005's Un Joli Mix Pour Toi and 2006's Ce Soir on Danse!, while gigging and working on their second album. Fancy Footwork arrived in the summer of 2007, boasting a slicker sound and poppier songwriting (courtesy of Cassius' Philippe Zdar on mixing duties), plus an avalanche of remixes. In the summer of 2008, they would collaborate with Hall & Oates' own Daryl Hall for part of his online series Live from Daryl's House. As fans awaited another album, Chromeo released DJ-Kicks in 2009.
They finally returned in August 2010 with Business Casual, released by Atlantic Records in the U.S. The singles "Over Your Shoulder" and "Sexy Socialite" were issued in 2013, and both landed on the following year's White Women, an album that featured Solange, Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, and, in affirmation of their indebtedness to early-'80s R&B, vocalist Tawatha Agee (of Mtume). Chromeo's highest Billboard debut, it narrowly missed the Top Ten. Four years later, the band returned with fifth album Head Over Heels, another record heavy on guest contributions from the likes of DRAM, French Montana, Amber Mark, and others. 2020 saw the duo launch their own label, Juliet Records, and release the COVID-19-influenced Quarantine Casanova EP, which featured topical tracks like "Clorox Wipe" and "Six Feet Away." ~ Johnny Loftus