Classixx are from Los Angeles, because of course they are. House music is a global sound, but the duo of Michael David and Tyler Blake offers an interpretation of the style that's inextricably intertwined with the palm-lined avenues, persimmon sunsets and generally impeccable chillness of their hometown. Their melodies sparkle, their grooves shuffle with the ease of a cool breeze and their arrangements are as lush as the foliage suggested by the title of their debut album, Hanging Gardens. To play a Classixx song is to be reminded that somewhere, right now, a pool party is going on.
And maybe it's just the knowledge that it's happening without you, but there's a certain feeling of melancholy that pervades their work, a sense that no summer is endless and all blooms must eventually fade. Nostalgia is at the forefront of songs like "Long Lost," an R&B slow jam that gazes longingly back at the digital synthesizers and plinky drum machines of the mid-'80s, and even an upbeat party jam like "I'll Get You," with its wholly rhetorical chorus ("Do you like bass?" Well, duh), hides an unmistakable poignancy beneath its jovial slap bass.
David and Blake started out on the remix circuit, putting their balmy spin on bands like Fischerspooner, Phoenix and Mayer Hawthorne, which might help explain why songcraft is such a strong part of their aesthetic. Cuts like "Hanging Gardens," "Rhythm Santa Clara" and "Holding On" may be targeted at rooftop parties, but "Borderline" could scan as a lost New Wave B-side, the kind of thing John Hughes might have written an entire scene around. It's that kind of variety, pulling from everything from Phil Collins to Madonna, that makes Hanging Gardens such an absorbing listen. That, and the fact that Classixx' inspirations are spot on -- one savvy French act in particular. Listening to the duo's lovingly sculpted filters and shimmering choruses, one thing becomes abundantly clear: You can take the classics out of Daft Punk, but you can't take the Daft Punk out of Classixx.