When I first heard Benny Benassi’s club hit “Satisfaction,” it didn’t really occur to me just how filthy-gorgeous it was. I thought the descending Morse Code patterns from what sounds like an amplified gnat made for a great earworm, especially against the Speak & Spell refrain, but the tightness of the clattering drum kits and handclaps escaped my not entirely perceptive erogenous zone. And then I saw the music video, which my friend helpfully characterized as this decade’s “Too Funky.” Blame desensitization to the 4/4 house beats, I guess, but apparently it took curvy, bikini-clad, oiled-up minxy construction workers to literally hammer the track’s kinky edge into my consciousness.
On the basis of “Satisfaction” alone, Benassi, an Italian with surprisingly less debts paid to the legacy of Italo disco than one might think, feels like one of dance music’s most swashbuckling defenders of heterosexual coitus, which is probably why everything he’s done since has left me so vaguely unmoved and impatient. Benassi’s Electroman lacks for pheromones, but the sex here is compulsive and disposable. The songs are slick as snail trails, but they never leave the missionary position. (Curiously, the press notes seem to endorse this latently generic posture, quoting a New York Times review of Benassi’s Chris Brown collaboration “Beautiful People,” which read, “It’s bold and also anonymizing, not asking much of Mr. Brown vocally, or in any other way.”)
In most cases, the songs don’t leave any ill residue—or anything at all, really. The album’s low points are mostly just presumptuous, such as the false advertising represented by both “My House” and “House Music,” full-throttle tech-tinged club bangers that have about as much in common with real house music as they do with operetta. (Where are the basslines, Benny?) On “Good Girl,” Benassi full-out rips off Jeans Team’s impenetrable “Keine Melodien,” but at the very least that means the song’s core is memorable.
If Benassi’s endless string of remixes for Top 40 hits by pop tarts reveals his overground ambition, so too does the roster for Electroman‘s cavalcade of guest stars. “Mr. Brown,” T-Pain, Ying Yang Twins, Kelis, and the Black Eyed Peas’ apl.de.ap all make appearances (in some cases attached to songs, now reclaimed by Benassi, previously produced for their own individual albums), and if the familiarity of their contributions are a good match for Benassi’s amped-up BEP/BPM aspirations, they also completely bypass the horny boogie wonderland “Satisfaction” finessed from its spare ingredients. The destination of Electroman is whichever club serving up three-for-one’s is nearest. Preferably one where the ladies drink for free.