Modeselektor has managed to have a pretty prolific year. A couple months ago, they took the reigns for Boogy Bytes Vol. 3 and now they're back with Happy Birthday!, the true follow-up to their 2005 Hello Mom! release. As one might expect from the crazy German duo, this whopping eighteen song release (that runs almost seventy minutes in length) is completely all over the place. There are banging minimal techno tracks, flickering ambient pieces, crunchy hip-hop styled tracks, and a general feeling of fun.
Just looking at the guest list (which includes everyone from Maximo Park to Thom Yorke and Otto Von Schirach) should give a good idea of their variety. The long opener of "Godspeed" takes its time building up a bit of textural techno sheen, but it soon melts away as the group drops into the banging krunk-hop of "2000007," which features chopped-up vocals from French rappers TTC. Switching moods just as quickly, they flirt with dubstep on the booming "Let Your Love Grow" (featuring Paul St. Hillaire on vocals) before dropping off into the sand-blasted ambience of "EM Ocean."
If there was one track on the album to absolutely build an entire dance set around, it would no doubt be "Sucker Pin," a churning stomper that thumps along with a simple beat and a rolling bass arpeggio that just keeps plowing forward until it has drilled inside your cranium. "Black Block" is cut from the same cloth, with distorted saw synths grinding away over a 4/4 gut punch. Thom York makes an appearance on one of the most poppy songs of the release, and the duo turn his vocals into a ghostly texture, drifting them amongst a warm, analogue-fueled backing that's more interesting than anything off The Eraser.
The wild styles of the duo gets the best of them in several places, and Happy Birthday! can't quite keep the killer pace going throughout. "Hyper Hyper" features Otto Von Schirach on vocals, and the clunky track floats somewhere between booty bass and old school hardcore rave while The Puppetmastaz turn "The Dark Side Of The Sun" into an over-the-top boast track that sticks out like a sore thumb on an already adventurous album. When they're on, they're tough to beat, and while this one definitely could have used a bit of trimming, it's still a load of fun.