Kate NV and Angel Deradoorian bond over shared anxieties like a pair of introverts at summer camp, unearthing every new inch of common ground with a sigh of relief and a much-needed dose of laughter. For Ticket to Fame, their first album as Decisive Pink, the two walled themselves off in a Cologne studio with an arsenal of synthesizers—“one of the Prophets, a modular, a Juno, a Jupiter, a Rodeo, a synth with a bee on it and some synth from the 1980s that Kate knew about,” Deradoorian recalls—and emerged with an album that plays like a road-trip scrapbook: a document of in-jokes, makeshift routines, and eureka moments that’s as bewilderingly insular as it is earnestly charming. From the temporary safety of their bubble, the experimental pop auteurs poke fun at life’s absurdities with the giddy energy of an acid trip cresting its peak.

Ticket to Fame is remarkably unified, stepping decisively on the gas and steering into bright, retro-futuristic synth pop; the duo sticks tightly to the kitschy ’80s sounds that NV so brilliantly engineered on 2020s Room for the Moon. The faux-marimba arpeggios  cutting through the frostbitten introspection of “What Where” sound like leftovers from a nature documentary on VHS, and the exuberantly funky post-disco stomp of “Dopamine” feels ripped out of an imaginary Tom Tom Club session, right down to the bleeping, dissonant synths sweeping across the song’s endearingly goofy breakdown.

Though NV is credited with handling the majority of the album’s production (Deradoorian, in turn, is the record’s principal lyricist), she keeps a loose grip behind the boards, allowing some of Deradoorian’s psychedelic krautrock inclinations to slip through. The results are mixed. On one end of the scale are the towering “Haffmilch Holiday” and the speedy, Harmonia-esque “Rodeo,” two perfect slices of Autobahn-ready motorik rock, begging to be taken on a highway test drive. On the other: “Interlude,” which simply runs a single arpeggio through every filter setting and tosses a bit of flute over it. Even more unfortunate is the similarly negligible ambient of “Dusk,” which maddeningly tosses away the chance to end the album on “Dopamine,” a high deserving of the name.

But Deradoorian shines as a lyricist, emboldened by NV to lighten up the moody, soul-searching mysticism of her past work with absurdist humor. Together, the two peel back the sociological layers masking their deepest desires and push each other toward a healthy wariness of all forces—political, technological, or chemical—that might lead them astray. Krautrock manifesto “Haffmilch Holiday” just wants to touch grass—dictators, gossips, and frappuccinos be damned. The sprightly “Ode to Boy” interpolates the core melody of Beethoven’s Ninth to undercut the nervous tension of a new crush. Is he more than just an “ordinary boy” or is she “throwing her heart into the wind?” The jury is out, but as they weave their voices through coda, the joke lands unexpectedly well. Hell is an automated customer service hotline in “Dopamine,” complete with Deradoorian reading out a hilarious, almost eerily realistic product list, anxiously searching for her next fix. “Giant googly eyes”? Sure, but “remote control centipede” just won’t cut it.

Tucked in the middle of the record, “Potato Tomato” feels like NV and Deradoorian have collectively snapped, falling victim to the cosmic joke themselves. The decision to include a track of NV and Deradoorian shouting increasingly ridiculous pronunciations of “potato” and “tomato” at each other initially struck me as an idea best left on the cutting-room floor. But as I sat with it, its white-hot ridiculousness cooled into a cypher for the album itself; a moment of unvarnished ridiculousness that exemplifies the duo’s determination to let the cabin fever of being trapped in the studio—or a body—strike a creative spark. When Deradoorian howls “Mommy!,” NV breaks out in laughter and so do I, submitting to the record’s delirium.

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Decisive Pink: Ticket to Fame