Winning Combination?

I never quite understood what it meant for a “whole to be less than the sum of its parts” until I heard the ludicrous marketing ploy that is Tinted Windows. That band in particular came off as specifically calculated to write hit pop songs and sell millions of records. Unfortunately for them, Tinted Windows will likely end up as something they’ll purposefully leave off of their respective resumes. But can there really be a collaboration or side project that is superior to the members’ proper bands?

Take, for example, the new pairing of Vampire Weekend‘s keyboardist/knob-twiddler, Rostam Batmanglij, and Ra Ra Riot‘s sprightly lead singer, Wes Miles, whose new project, Discovery, combines two of last year’s fastest-rising indie stars into one artsy package. Their debut album, simply called LP, combines Batmanglij’s synthesized sorcery with Miles’ bright vocals, but with a distinctly unusual edge. Rather than bouncy, “Just Can’t Get Enough”-style synthpop, Discovery go for a more experimental approach that yields, well, uneven results. It works on opener “Orange Shirt,” but heads far south on “Can You Discover,” a reworking of Ra Ra Riot’s classy single “Can You Tell.” With auto-tuned and heavily repeated vocal samples, LP sounds like one of those indie remixes, only it overstays its welcome even more.

In theory, a pairing of guys from Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot should totally work, seeing as how both were two of my favorite new bands of the past year. However, Discovery, like Tinted Windows, falls flat under the weight of the names behind it.

Are there any inter-band collaborations that are greater than the sum of their parts?

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~ by E. on June 15, 2009.

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