Emil Yves Hewitt records under the name Emil & Friends. His friends step up to support touring. On Downed Economy, Hewitt straddles the old and new, capturing the low-fi, compressed, AM radio sound of '70 pop soul and merging it with a modern electronic sound. It's pop, soul, disco, and club all stirred together. That retro compressed audio sounds like a 1974 road trip. Hewitt also has a nice touch for bringing in string synth highlights to create his disco feel.
Josephine nails the era. It's got the production of a hundred period disco pop tunes. The groove is solid and the whole song holds together well. The only contemporary touch is that the lyrics have a more modern sensibility.
Other songs more to the retro side include Short Order Cooks and The Shrine which both have elements of what Beck was reaching for on Debra (Midnight Vultures). The falsetto vocal, old school groove, and more modern song structure come together to make an interesting mix.
On the other hand, the title track, Downed Economy stays more firmly in the present. It tosses in some older elements, like the wah-wah guitar and the disco string synths, but the focus is on an experimental electro pop sound. The snaky bass synth, drum machine groove, and layered complexity build an interesting vibe over a rythmically heavy groove.
Fans of the '70s pop sounds will find a welcoming home on Downed Economy. Disco haters and soul pop cynics shouldn't waste their time. A slightly diluted screwdriver (like the bars used to serve) will pair nicely.