By all accounts, the past two years have been a relatively good time for vinyl collectors. Both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are flush with the fruits of a number of new labels which specialize in short-run, white-label 12"s. One of the latest entrants to this arena is Free Association, a shadowy Brooklyn-based imprint putting its first foot forward with "Naughty," a track from Swedish disco-house trio Name in Lights. Between the original version and remixes from Axel Boman and Cameo Culture, the record offers DJs something functional, but nothing too far out of the ordinary.
On the a-side, "Naughty" rushes in excitedly, riding the crest of an analog wave of druggy, '80s-inflected synth stabs and cowbell-heavy disco kicks. It picks up even more momentum thanks to a bubblegum-sweet vocal sample which repeats, "Let's get naughty," but the arrangement perhaps shows its hand too early, dropping into a breakdown before resuming with an added dash of funk guitar noodling. "Naughty" isn't particularly inspired, but could fit well enough in the more abbreviated confines of a DJ set.
The arrangement issues of Name in Lights' original tune are even more apparent when listening to Axel Boman's remix on the b-side. His version takes a softer direction, playing with time and tension by waiting until the five-minute mark to finally bring the kick in. Prior to that, Boman lets things gently simmer in a kind of acoustic foreplay, dwelling on smooth chords and what sounds like a heavily processed re-interpretation of the aforementioned funk guitars. It's the standout cut on the 12", as it transforms the original production into something better suited for the demands of early-evening and late-morning play.
Cameo Culture rounds out the release by providing a bassline-centric rendition of "Naughty" that touches on a meeting point between the bounce of classic-era French touch and the sleaze of new-school, vocal tech-house. Like its source material, it's fun, but plays things a bit too safe to be completely memorable.