According to legend, Marcus Lambkin (a.k.a. Shit Robot) hooked up with the DFA crew at the very beginning, well before the imprint started throwing lavish dance parties on hotel rooftops and handily sold out arenas. The Irish-born DJ was there as the label was still just a few guys trying to make sense of NYC's rich electro, funk, disco, and house traditions with their post-punk pedigrees. And although it arrived approximately a decade after the label's genesis, in some ways Shit Robot's 2010 LP, From the Cradle to the Rave, harkened back to the diverse spirit of those early days. Guests placed a key role in the process, as DC punk Ian Svenonius served up an acid confessional on "Simple Things (Work it Out)" while Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem and The Juan Maclean assisted in creating the robust funk of "Take Em Up." Now, nearly two years later, Shit Robot has returned with "Teenage Bass" b/w "Space Race," the latest chapter in DFA's progression.
Both sides of this 12"—which will eventually converge with several more forthcoming singles as The Green Machine LP in 2013—are paced in the functional 120-bpm range, allowing them to fit nicely into a Beats in Space podcast, a DJ set at Le Bain, or even the next DFA tent at a massive summer festival. The songs throw familiar punches—warm, analog bass, muted guitar picking, debonair arpeggios, short and melodic leads—and both offer easy, consonant listens, yet they're certainly physical enough to marionette a floor into motion for seven or eight minutes.
That said, simply delivering serviceable cuts isn't very satisfactory, especially for an artist who's put out wonderfully quirky and varied productions in the recent past. In contrast to those efforts, the new single is more concerned with low-stakes dancefloor politics. "After the album I just wanted to go back to my roots and make some dance 12"s, music for people to get drunk and jump around to," Lambkin states in the record's PR materials. In that respect, "Teenage Bass" b/w "Space Race" is a success, but stylistically, this is standard-issue disco house—and coming from Shit Robot, that's a disappointment. Other acts who helped to define '00s NYC house, like Morgan Geist or Still Going, are still working to push the boundaries of the genre, imbuing their most recent offerings with an extra dose of funk or raunch that neither "Teenage Bass" nor "Space Race" possesses. Lambkin may be embarking on a journey back to his roots, but these pieces read more like a regression back to an era that's in greater need of rejuvenation than nostalgic admiration.