When LOL Boys went on indefinite hiatus towards the tail end of 2012, it was genuinely disappointing. The duo’s Changes EP, which had been released only a month prior, had achieved an impressive balance between kitsch and sophistication with its particular brand of chilled-out ’90s house influences, jazzy chords, and genuinely affecting guest vocal performances. Nevertheless, fans of LOL Boys have likely taken solace in the flurry of activity from Jerome LOL in the year following the group’s separation. Apart from maintaining an active presence as the co-founder of the consistently excellent Body High label, the Los Angeles-based producer has issued a steady stream of free downloads, mixes, compilation tracks, and remixes, all of which have seen him exploring an inventive range of styles, including ambient-leaning tracks, pop edits, and a continuation of the melodic but abstract territory once covered by LOL Boys.

Now, Friends of Friends, the same label that released Changes, has issued Jerome LOL’s proper debut EP, Deleted/Fool. The four-track release finds the producer heading further down the road of vocal-led pop, shunning explicit dancefloor moves in favor of a refined, song-based take on slick, ’90s cafe house. But where the songs on Changes had both a sonic richness and hooks that were strong enough to maintain the listener’s interest through some of the EP’s more questionable sonic appropriations, Deleted/Fool falls a bit short.

The first two tracks, both featuring vocals from Sara Z, are the EP’s strongest offerings. “Deleted” features hip-hop-derived breakbeats and spare, lingering chords, over which Sara Z’s admittedly rich, melancholic vocals sit. “Always” is similar, which isn’t surprising, given that the EP’s four tracks are all fairly indistinguishable from one another. By the time one reaches the third track (and lead single) “Fool,” featuring vocals from Angelina Lucero—who notably contributed to two tracks on Changes—it becomes apparent that there’s a lack of dynamism at work. Each track is structured very similarly around stuttering, jazzy beats and chiming, tenuous instrumentation. The vocal hooks also struggle to sink in; for instance, the sluggish tempo and ambient washes of “Peru” threaten to swallow up Lucero’s barely there vocals. While the end results of this approach are not unpleasant, the do come off as too tame, especially in comparison to Jerome LOL’s relatively adventurous past productions.

That being said, Jerome LOL has managed to carve out a sound for himself that no one else is even close to approximating. Looking over his discography, he has released some excellent productions in the past year, such as the upbeat, wispy house of “Rue Cler,” from Friendzone’s Kuchiburi Network 3 compilation, but it’s possible that the mixtape is Jerome LOL’s best medium. His mixes, including last week’s XLR8R podcast, often see him cleverly veering between unconventional edits of hip-hop or Top 40 tracks, contemporary house tunes, and the kind of polite, ‘sophisticated’ house and trip-hop that populated Café del Mar compilations in the late ’90s. In this kind of a context, nods to the likes of St. Germain can appear bold and daring, but when Jerome LOL attempts to channel that aesthetic into his own material on Deleted/Fool, there remains some room for improvement.