Disco DNA can be found in any current pop chart, and there are underground groups and producers who owe as much to the Chic Organization and the Prelude label as a garage band owes to the Stooges and the Rolling Stones, but few treat disco as a living and breathing art form, as opposed to something in need of a revival and the uniqueness-eliminating reverence that often goes with it, like Hercules Love Affair. Led by Andrew Butler, a songwriter, producer, keyboardist, and vocalist, the group is fleshed out with production and programming from the DFA's Tim Goldsworthy, a trio of disparate but complementary vocalists (Antony, Nomi, Kim Ann Foxman), and several instrumentalists who are skilled and knowledgeable enough about club music from the mid-'70s through the present to not retrace too many of anyone's steps. Apart from their name, which resembles the more rock-oriented Heloise the Savoir Faire and can be interpreted as a play on the names of both house producer Adonis and disco units like Pam Todd Love Exchange, they aren't likely to trigger many concrete flashbacks. Instead, they present an evolved version of disco, one that contains certain trademark elements of the past while sounding brand new. Wordless vocal samples, synthetic cowbells, prancing keyboard taps, and heartbroken lyrics over a four-four rhythm, as heard on "You Belong," don't make for an original set of components, but the manner in which they are put together, constantly twisting into different shapes and sealed inside radiant production, make it practically otherworldly (and it is, by a long distance, the least singular track on the album). The other tracks that put the dancefloor first, whether small or grand in scope, are generous in delights, supplying supple basslines, beaming keyboard patterns, and singing horns, all of which are arranged in ways that serve the body and the mind, simultaneously muscular and musical. What really puts the album over the top as something else is not just its ideas-stuffed brevity (46 minutes in its original form), but its material not made explicitly for the club. The back-to-back pair of "Iris" and "Easy" are gorgeous, slow-shifting, electronics-driven songs with lyrics that read as platitudes yet are truly heartfelt and deeply touching, obviously written not just for the sake of vocal accompaniment. [The U.S. version, released three months after the U.K. version, adds "Classique 2" and "Roar" -- the two tracks from the first 12" -- as well as the video for "Blind."] Andy Kellman, Rovi
- Dance, Electronica
- Club/Dance, Left-Field House, House
- MUTE U.S.
- June 24, 2008
- Hercules & Love Affair