I’m definitely more receptive to Chic’s version of disco than I am to many others, I guess because sometimes it’s hard to tell whether they’re disco or funk. (And I, of course, prefer funk greatly to disco.)
I like that this album is branching out a bit. Rodgers adds some acoustic guitar, which I just was not expecting in the slightest, and the variety that provides is very welcome. This is a genre that’s not known for much variety, after all.
The songs are a little lacking this time out. As many others have noted, though some of these songs are pretty catchy, there is nothing here on par with “Le Freak” or “Good Times”. (And that was reflected in the fact that these singles just didn’t chart very well for the most part.) A lack of songs is a big problem for a record where I’m not entirely on board with the aesthetic.
I don’t like the aesthetic, but I can’t deny they know what they’re doing. Take “Open Up”, for example. A song somewhere on the disco-funk spectrum that has a string section but which somehow doesn’t sound drenched in that string section. Edwards and Rodgers have isolated the strings to one part, so it’s the melody (instead of a vocal) and you’re left with guitar, bass and drums in addition. It sounds lean even though there’s an orchestra. And I admire this from a recording and mixing perspective, even if I don’t actually like the music they are making. They get space and they utilize it more often than not.
So I’m glad the band has diversified its sound a titch. I think the record is well produced. I don’t think the songs are quite there. And I do prefer funk to whatever this disco funk thing is.