Bent dance music with a big, steady beat. You could sweat off pounds in an evening and never notice the weirdness of the lyrics that may tell an integrated story across tracks. Twisted melodies and dissonances offhandedly bring back Devo, Talking Heads, Blondie, and other early New Wavers, but with less playfulness or acid edge; let the bored dance it off. Machines maintain a relentless beat and the humans seem just to lean back into it absentmindedly. And yet it is an exhilarating set. Most tracks are strong. Strongest tracks below are labeled "S".
1. Utopia. Ukeleles on meth set the pace for a big beat that falls in with them. Tenor garage rockers join as electronica squiggles spice up the mix. High energy gives me the gitters. Or is it just a strobe light flashing on a field of bodies bouncing to the beat in the dark?
2. Dystopia (The earth is on fire S). Disco with a light reggae swagger. Big, steady beats. Spare synths. Vaguely Devo-like angularity and dissonance. Vocalist almost off-handedly muses about apocalypse. "The earth is on fire. We cut off the water. Let the motherf****r burn." Whatever.
3. I walked alone (S). Fine 1960s garage band attack with a snap in the sharp beat. But it's a spare, funky, synthesized cross of disco and Devo.
4. Love in the dark. Spooky simplicity in a tacky synthesized organ. Feels like early Talking Heads with a greasy slick of Blondie. Fine, slow, steady sway. "I love you like a ticking bomb.... I'd sell you out to get you in the dark."
5. One step. Funky geek beats--perfect early Talking Heads, complete with squirrely lead guitar lines.
6. Holy roller. Spare, oddly quiet machine disco with echo effects and artfully scattered fripperies. Then the band jazzes in for the big, steadily stomping chorus--"Don't you worry about God up above" and the vocalist drives into 1980s girl group tricks. Start over. And over.
7. Beam me up (S). Chugger eats up the highway. Female lead does her best chilly post-punk girl attack. Band charges in for verse 2. Souixie and sisters are back. Pure post-punk dance music.
8. Paradise engineering. Big, dark machine beat with contrasting riffs on three levels. The female lead commits Sprechtstimme in a 1980s girl voice--more like David Byrne or Patty Smith? "If you want me to be your God, yeah, I will be your God." Giddy and disturbing.
9. Tripped and fell in love. Fine, funky buzz on the big, snappy beat. Tight, sharp instrumental setting with echoes of Telstar in a organ line deep in the spare mix. Unusually balanced male-female duet. Fidgeting heat seen from a cool distance. "All my friends became my family."
10. Shangri-la. Opens with something approaching gay music box charm. The band picks up on it and carries it forward over a poppy synthesizer line. Happy, vacant, warm-breeze-addled: "I can go to heaven when we go to L.A.... Shangri-la, la-la-la, la-la-la-la." Music boxes tinkle away inside everybody's noggins as they march happily together to a hazy anthem.