Entertainment Music
Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: Kavinsky, 'Outrun'

**1/2 (out of four)

The French dance music scene that gave us Daft Punk, Justice and the late DJ Mehdi has also produced a lot of lesser names that weren't worth your time and effort. For a long time, producer/DJ Kavinsky was one of them. He released the usual scattered remixes--mostly music to buy chinos to.

That changed with his song "Nightcall," whose inclusion in the opening credits of the Ryan Gosling film "Drive" rocketed Kavinsky back into popular conversation. On the heels of that success, he releases "Outrun," his first full-length album and a record that's so '80s it hurts. So much, in fact, that the album is named after the Sega Genesis racing game (What do you mean you don't remember?).

Nostalgia runs rampant on "Outrun." Songs like "Deadcruiser" sound like the background music for a 2D side-scroller like "Double Dragon" or "Final Fight." The entire project could serve as a lesson on how to take a sound that used to be popular (in this case, more synths than should be legal) and giving it a modern update.

Unfortunately, the dedication to the theme sometimes hinders the album. Songs like "Suburbia" (featuring Havoc from Mobb Deep, of all people) stick out like sore thumbs and distract from the concept. Oh, did I mention that this is a concept album? The backstory is that Kavinsky actually died in 1986, then became a half-zombie, half-car groove monster. No, seriously.

The actually kind-of-novel concept would be fresh and interesting had Kavinsky chosen to stick to it through the entire album. The lack of commitment ends up serving as an annoyance more than anything. Regardless, this is a treat for people who dig the sound of the '80s. Next time, let Rick Springfield take the night off.

erwilkins@tribune.com, @ernestwilkins


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