The first thing that needs to be said about Quarantine Casanova is it’s fun! Five short 1980s funk-flavored jams all based on the relationships that endure in the seemingly endless epidemic.
Over the past 18 years and five albums, Chromeo have been honing their nostalgic and strikingly accurate style. Their influences are clear, Zapp, Cameo, Rick James, and many more. You can hear Chromeo masterful musicality in the accompanying instrumental versions at the tail end of the album. P Thugg’s vocoder and talk-box work on “Clorox Wipe” would feel at home in a track by the Bar-Kays, the lush string arrangements of “Roni Got Me Stressed Out” could easily be mistaken for disco-era Chic. The plethora of synths across the release give the EP such a strong authenticity and character that is only enhanced further by the luxurious and exorbitant production.
So what’s wrong with Chromeo? Why aren’t they more popular? Chromeo’s past releases have been panned and described as over-long with empty or even sometimes facile lyricism. This is not the case with Quarantine Casanova. I could see the gimmick wearing off of the EP continued any longer, but part of the skill necessary in crafting something like Quarantine Casanova is to know when to stop. Some of the tracks do overrun a little with indulgent outros. But that’s easily overlooked due to the quality of the EP’s music and lyricism.
“6 Feet Apart” is the highlight of the EP. It’s so well crafted toeing the line between plain silly and genuinely tear-jerking. The song is so universally relatable. I challenge anyone not to be impacted by the caring lyrics littered with references to our new normal and the enforced physical and emotional distance in relationships. Musically we are firmly in feelgood 1980s funk. Infectious drum machine loops, syncopated and hearty synth basslines, kitsch hand claps, squeaky-clean vocals coupled with some talk-box call and response, and shimmering arpeggiated chords in true Hall and Oates fashion. “Six Feet Away” is a pop-funk blueprint underneath witty and timely lyricism, a real joy and a success.
Sometimes a release is “of its time”, and this can often be a negative statement, but in Chromeo’s case, this is a positive. The EP will not have great longevity, and I won’t be racing to re-listen to it too frequently, but for the moment, Quarantine Casanova is a joyful listen. Maybe in a few years, when we remember this episode Quarantine Casanova will be mentioned, and I will be transported back to the bizarre time “Cabin Fever” and “Stay in Bed (And Do Nothing)” were among the most relatable songs.
While Quarantine Casanova could be described as facile or flippant, to me, this EP is important. It’s a silver lining in the dark cloud that we are all facing together. It has been brilliant to see and hear all the serious art that has come as a result of quarantine, but it is so refreshing and positive to have a lighthearted, clever, and feelgood EP to timestamp this moment.