The last time New York's high-concept electroclash outfit Fischerspooner tried to go pop, they didn't have much in the way of songs to help them make an impact with people not easily impressed by synthesizer squelch alone. So they came up with a stage show heavy on the spectacle their music didn't provide, lampooning the costumes, lighting and special effects utilized by megastars like Madonna and Janet Jackson while benefiting from them all the same. On Odyssey, the first album Fischerspooner has recorded as a major-label act, they try to get some of that pop into the music itself. In the process they dig up a handful of catchy, propulsive electro-pop gems whose appeal survives the journey into your home: In "Cloud," co-produced by Madonna collaborator Mirwais Ahmadzai, singer Casey Spooner observes that "everything adds up to a truth"--whatever that means--over grinding electronic guitars and laser-light-show zooms; "Never Win" is spare, syncopated disco-funk; "A Kick in the Teeth" marries one of programmer Warren Fischer's trademark octave-skipping bass lines to a dreamy synth-pop melody co-written with in-demand hired hand Linda Perry. Not all of Odyssey achieves the crossover the band is clearly gunning for--the disc's last half is soggy with hard-drive hokum--but it's an encouraging actualization of a theoretical pleasure principle.
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Mikael Wood