Review: Dinner – Psychic Lovers

At first I thought Psychic Lovers was like marmite. Some people, I predicted, would like its distinctive potency, while others would spit it out immediately and start gagging. Then I realised something. I know where I stand on marmite (I like it) but I can’t decide whether Psychic Lovers is a ridiculous abomination on the ears or a more admirable, idiosyncratic work of outsider genius.

Apparently, singer and producer Anders “Dinner” Rhedin spent four months working on this collection, his debut album after a series of EP releases, before scrapping the results and starting all over again. Then he spent another five months creating this… thing. The promo blurb describes Psychic Lovers as “the soundtrack to David Lynch directing Miami Vice”, and it does indeed resemble the kind of glossy, Hawaiian-shirted, coke-addled nightmare that rich folk might have suffered in the 1980s. However, it feels less Lynchian than Nicolas Winding Refn-ian. It’s like a mash-up of the Drive soundtrack with the karaoke scenes from Only God Forgives but instead of a vengeful Taiwanese cop holding the microphone it’s the Danish cousin of McBain from The Simpsons. Both being Danes, it wouldn’t come as a massive surprise if it transpired that Rhedin was an alter-ego of Refn and Psychic Lovers was a sonic prank cooked up in the mind of the stylistic neon-fetishising auteur.

Rhedin’s production is accomplished, if perversely retro, like a slicker take on the lo-fi hypnogogic pop sounds of John Maus or Gary War, and tunes like ‘Cool As Ice’ have the kind of hooks that Carly Rae Jepsen would relish belting out. Yet Rhedin’s own unhinged baritone makes the finished product far too coarse and clumsy for mainstream synth-pop audiences to understand and you wonder throughout why he chose to front Dinner himself, instead of drafting in guest vocalists. Perhaps it was for reasons of integrity and, on the surface, Rhedin does sound sincere, less overtly ironic than fellow 80s throwbackers Chromeo, if a lot worse at singing. Among Psychic Lovers’ other bizarre highlights are ‘Turn Me On’, which vaguely resembles A-Ha and Depeche Mode’s sewer-dwelling mutant lovechild and ‘Gone’, where the music sounds like it’s trying to escape the malicious captivity of Rhedin’s dominant half-speed vocals. Other moments resemble the kind of noises that you’d imagine might be made by the portrait in A Picture Of Dorian Gray, if the main protagonist had been Simon Le Bon.

In the era of omnipresent Auto-Tune, it’s refreshing to hear vocals that are so peculiarly imperfect, but is it actually an enjoyable listening experience? “Take me home with you tonight,” Rhedin begs on the final track. Not after a first date, I won’t. But so intriguingly mad was this encounter, that I wouldn’t completely rule out a second rendezvous.

Written by JR Moores