Hercules & Love Affair’s impressive debut included “Blind,” a pulsing, emphatic dance track (featuring the lovely, melancholy vocal of Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons) that ushered in a throwback to long play disco. On their sophomore release Blue Songs, band mastermind and New York-based DJ Andy Butler assembles another collection of soulful dance tunes —an engaging, fresh exploration of disco and house.
The tracks, mostly clocking in over five minutes, are epic. Opener and album highlight “Painted Eyes,” beautifully sung by Aerea Negrot, employs stuttering bass and glittery synths with orchestral elements (flutes, sweeping strings). Lead single “My House” and its sublime music video (with its tongue-in-cheek commercial break) are gleeful forays into early-‘90s club nostalgia. There’s a joyous, Sylvester-like quality to the brassy “Falling” rare on today’s dance records. The pace slows down with Shaun Wright’s “Boy Blue,” a folky electro number that recalls the best of Erasure, dissonantly moving into the minor on the lyric “I’m grateful / for the words you chose.” It’s difficult to sit still to the funk of “Leonora,” with its rolling piano sample, the electro beat of “I Can’t Wait” and Technotronic-inspired “Step Up” featuring Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. The lyrics are a bit generic on Sterling Void’s closer “It’s Alright,” but it’s a nice, gentle reassurance that things will be OK, even if a good party is over.
Jeffery Berg is a poet who lives in Manhattan. His last piece for FP was a review of Twin Shadow. He edits poetry for Clementine and Mary and writes about film, guilty pleasures and various obsessions on jdbrecords.