John MacLean made his first major musical mark as the guitarist for Six Finger Satellite, a onetime Sub Pop signee that merged traditional rock with synthetic filigree. Then, after lying low for a few years, he re-emerged with 2005's Less Than Human, a full-out electronic opus released under the twisted moniker The Juan MacLean—and the results promptly divided his fan base. Some listeners found the joy and humor in such cheeky efforts as "Shining Skinned," which featured lyrics such as "Remember the future!" delivered in a deadpan robo voice. Others saw the entire project as failed satire.
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Maybe that's why "Happy House," MacLean's new single, is a more straightforward affair, replete with club-friendly beats and guest star Nancy Whang's diva-licious singing. The results are highly danceable, but they have less personality than before—and MacLean will have to add more in the future if he wants his latest stuff to leave marks of its own.