"Wonderland" (Album, 2007)
I almost foolishly dismissed this as middling synthpop, but thankfully my journalistic conscience made sure I gave this a few good hearings before coming up with a judgement. Curiously, if one were to construct a Venn diagram to show the position this sits in, you'd find it sitting in the area of overlap between three main circles of influence. The first circle of influence is represented by the analog pop of Ladytron; the second circle the glam electro of Goldfrapp and the third the kind of pared-back dance music that always appears in those TV ads for chill out dance compilations.
What's curious about this conclusion is you suddenly realise what potential such a combination throws up; you then immediately wonder why this hasn't already been wider exploited is this post genre mash up era. With the right promo and a bit of good fortune, this has massive alternative underground/dance club crossover potential. Since I frequent neither variety very much these days - this could already be happening. Rubikon are a British male/female duo but this first long player is released on the Swedish Substream label.
Tiff Lacey's voice utilises just the right amount of attitude and huskiness to craftily draw you into its seductive qualities. It's a bit like Sophie Ellis Bexter - only one that can actually hold a note. The title track is well-chosen, one of the strongest entries, whilst album closer With Love just about gets the recipe of eclectic parts right. Wonderland does however have a potentially fatal weakness when main writer Huw Williams confuses a chilled out vibe with borderline indifference, and midway through a track (like on second track Original Instinct) the interest wanes and it's time to skip to the next track. Then, elsewhere, it's almost shoegaze without the guitars. Those wider audience dance clubs have a tailor-made remix of Adore by by David Amo and Julio Navas to service their client base as a bonus track.
Returning to my (I think) rather natty Venn diagram concept, I'm not sure the optimum area of sound convergence has yet been engineered by Rubicon on Wonderland but that which they already have identified definitely suggests the individual underlying datasets are worth revisiting for some further projections. Translation: it's good; keep at it; it can get better still! 7/10
Rob Dyer (August 2009)