I Can't Tell You Why (DJ-Kicks)
Montreal duo Chromeo gathers a treasure trove of sparkling curios on their contribution to K7’s DJ Kicks series. French Canadian disco and glossy, electronic R&B form the core of a collection that offers an alternate history of the early ’80s, telling the story of a world where punk never happened, synthesizers are celebrated and sincerity never went out of style.
Most of the cuts on the mix are what Chromeo call "dollar-bin obscurities"-former hits that today are all but forgotten, languishing in the dusty corners of used-record shops. But there’s one major exception to that rule: Chromeo’s own version of "I Can’t Tell You Why."
One of the disc’s highlights, "I Can’t Tell You Why" may also be one of its more polarizing tracks. The song, after all, was written by the Eagles, a classic American rock band (and adult-contemporary radio staple) that’s pretty much the antithesis of hipster cred. More credit to Chromeo, then, for looking beyond received wisdom and hearing the song for what it is: blue-eyed soul of the highest order. Chromeo’s version adds primitive drum machine, cosmic synthes and gooey, electronically processed vocals, rearranging the tune into a kind of delicate, airy R&B.
Needless to say, the cover is a highly unusual move for a DJ Kicks mix, which means that it’s only natural as a fit for the series’ first-ever seven-inch release. It comes backed with a minimally altered dub version that adds new keyboards and does away with the lead vox but, mercifully, preserves all the pneumatic backing harmonies. Spinning as weightlessly as the sparkles on a disco ball, it’s an easy contender for the slow jam of the year.