Elektro Exclusive First Listen: Going Bananas For Dada Life’s New Album
“You’re being punked.”
This was the near-universal response I received yesterday when I told my coworkers and friends what I had just been asked to do. I got a phone call a little after 3 PM, instructing me to report to the banana stand at the Trader Joe’s in Union Square at 5 PM sharp… dressed in a banana costume. If I did so, I was told, I would be approached by a man who would grant me an exclusive first listen to tracks from Dada Life’s upcoming album, The Rules of Dada. It was a no-brainer: I would gladly risk getting kicked out of a grocery store for loitering in its produce section in order to hear fresh Dada Life tracks. A banana suit was procured at a nearby costume shop, and I proceeded to the subway in full Dada regalia, champagne bottle in hand.
Upon arriving at Trader Joe’s, I quickly found the banana stand and planted myself nearby. The store was particularly busy, and my getup elicited reactions – laughter, a couple thumbs-up signs, disapproving eye rolls – from customers and employees alike. After about five minutes of waiting, I made eye contact with a man in a black leather jacket and he walked over. “I take it you’re the girl in the banana suit who wants to hear some Dada Life tunes?” he asked in a British accent. He then laid out the rules: I would hear four songs one time each, and he wasn’t going to tell me their titles. I was allowed to take notes. Oh, and he wasn’t The Boss, in case I was wondering (I was).
He handed me the ear buds attached to his iPhone and pressed play. I started writing down as much as I could, as quickly as I could – lyrics, melodies, sound effects, structures, anything to help me remember the songs afterwards. I was sweating through my yellow polyester.
After comparing my notes to the recently-released track listing for The Rules of Dada, I now know that I listened to “Boing Clash Boom,” “So Young, So High,” “Everything Is Free” and You Will Do What We Do.” All four songs carry on the Dada tradition of wild electro-house anthems with just the right dose of party-ready vocals; with the exception of “Boing Clash Boom,” there’s little deviation from Dada Life’s tried-and-true formula. Not that that’s a bad thing: I was one happy banana after hearing the tracks.
“Boing Clash Boom” featured a Luciana-esque vocalist spitting quick, short stanzas: “Bring on the bananas and bubbly;” “Sweden is winnin’;” and, of course, “Boing, clash, boom.” The latter vocal was manipulated and sped up to lead into the drop, which brought a welcome surprise: a seriously heavy dose of dubstep with nearly tribal influences. Having already lost any sense of shame about the circumstances, I couldn’t help but groove to the bass-heavy breakdown.
Next up was “So Young, So High,” which had a brighter feel and another female vocalist. The final line of the chorus, “We will never, ever come down,” began to repeat as it sped up, changed pitch and claps steadily built behind it. Dada Life then chopped up the vocals over a quintessentially Dada bass-heavy build-up and drop that is destined to become a fan favorite.
“Everything Is Free” was also a vocal track, but the sound was more raw. Mentions of bananas and champagne again abounded, but the chorus centered around the line “The world is gonna end and we’re just having fun.” Like the prior song, the buildup and drop centered around manipulated vocals, but segued into a R3hab-style “chainsaw” synth for a harder edge. “Everything Is Free” also featured a slower, slightly eerie bridge devoid of the main melody.
The last song I heard, “You Will Do What We Do,” stayed stuck in my head for hours after the whole encounter. It had a heavy dose of low-end, not unlike “Kick Out The Epic Motherfucker.” The track began as an instrumental, with an interesting staccato melody punctuated by a video game-like “ping-pong” sound. Eventually, a robotic voice, reminiscent of that of Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” began a series of chants/instructions (hence the title).
And just like that, my bizarre, rushed, frenzied listening session was over. I thanked the Dada team member and asked what promotional plans the group had in the two weeks before The Rules of Dada debuted.
“Keep an eye on supermarkets’ produce aisles,” he said. “That’s all I can tell you.” I opened my mouth to press for more information, but his phone started to ring. “There’s one of the Dada boys now,” he said, holding up his iPhone to show Stefan Engblom’s name on the screen. He accepted the call and strode out of the Trader Joe’s without looking back.