It’s conventional wisdom that everything old will be new again and the four most interesting “dance music” albums I’ve heard over the last few weeks do their utmost to prove this notion.
I’m referring to “Bring Ya To The Brink,” the first all-dance set by ’80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper, “Apocalypso” by Australian sleaze-dance duo The Presets, “In Ghost Colours” by another Aussie import, Cut Copy, and the self-titled release from NYC’s Hercules And Love Affair.
Each album in this diverse groove armada is highlighted by its connection to the past — either through the identity of the recording artist (in Lauper’s case) or the genres the material resurrects. But, far from being pastiche or even an ironic nod to nostalgia, these collections are sincere attempts to extend the legacy of the musical styles they’re invoking.
Cyndi Lauper — “Bring Ya To The Brink” (Epic) Girls just wanna have fun — on the dancefloor. Cyndi Lauper has enjoyed tremendous success with her remixed singles the last few years, but this is the first time she’s ever recorded an album of dance material. This new direction — from an artist who is known for constantly trying new things — has already paid dividends. The collection’s lead single, “Same Ol’ Story,” is perched atop the Billboard Club Play chart at this writing.
The thumping House track was produced by Richard Morel. The D.C.-based knob twirler produced three of the set’s 12 songs in all. Among them is Lauper’s self-proclaimed favorite cut, “Raging Storm,” a social commentary track driven by rolling percussion and shimmering keyboards.
Joining Morel as producers on the album are Peer Astrom & Johan Bobeck, Axwell, Basement Jaxx, DJ EMZ, Digital Dog, Dragonette, Kleerup, and The Scumfrog.
Lauper recently embarked on the 24-city True Colors tour to benefit the Human Rights Campaign. She will be joined at various shows by artists including The B-52s, Indigo Girls, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and Joan Armatrading. It’s her second summer in a row touring to raise funds and awareness for the LGBT community.
“It’s an honor to always have the genuine affection of the gay community,” Lauper says. “They have never turned their back on me. I will never turn my back on them. We’ve had a long and enduring love affair.”
With its thoughtful lyrics and banging beats, “Bring Ya To The Brink” will keep the relationship on solid footing for the foreseeable future.
The Presets — “Apocalypso” (Modular) The sophomore album from Australia’s The Presets is a molten eruption of 80s inspired Electro and Industrial. Concussive robotic drums, hollowed-out voices, bruised harmonies and the energy of complete abandon propel the 11-track project to the edge of orgiastic chaos.
Queer-friendly beatmasters Julian Hamilton (keyboards and vocals) and Kim Moyes (drums) have created the soundtrack to the sex club in your head. It’s a place where every dark corner is occupied by a hungry stranger and each propulsive thrust is punctuated by the kickdrum.
Last year, Hamilton told LAWeekly.com: “I hope [our music] makes people want to f*ck and dance — they’re two of the last things we’re allowed to do in a world that’s being increasingly run on hate and fear.”
Mission accomplished, guys: “Apocalypso” is a hip-quaking, trouser-snaking aphrodisiac of an album.
Cut Copy — “In Ghost Colours” (Modular) Fans of such post-punk and new wave bands as New Order, OMD and The Cure will be delighted with the new album from Cut Copy. The second release by the Aussie trio of Dan Whitford, Tim Hoey and Mitchell Scott is a moody, melodic affair that perfectly captures the synth-sational early ’80s era of kohl eyeliner and killer basslines.
The 15-track album was recorded last year at Plantain Studio in the West Village (NY), the home studio of DFA Records. Tim Goldsworthy, co-founder of the influential dance-punk label with James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), co-produced the project with the band.
Whitford, Hoey and Scott reportedly “geeked out” on DFA’s collection of vintage analogue equipment. If that’s true, they put the pieces to good use on the fab “In Ghost Colours.”
Hercules And Love Affair — Self-titled (Mute) Disco and Classic House collide on the acclaimed debut album from Hercules And Love Affair. Music mags in the U.K. showered the recording with superlatives when it was released there March 10. Now, U.S. punters can hear what the justified fuss is about as the set’s just been issued stateside.
Working with a trio of vocalists that includes Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons fame, creative force Andrew Butler sculpts 10 cuts on this outstanding genre exercise that spans from Disco workouts to Frankie Knuckles’-inspired Chicago House jams with multiple stops in between.
Lead single “Blind” is a floor burner straight out of Studio 54, while “You Belong” sounds like a long-lost Jamie Principle track. “Raise Me Up” recalls Boy George’s post-Culture Club foray into dance music whereas “Hercules’ Theme” is a horn-boosted funk party.
Bottom line: “Hercules And Love Affair” is a toe-tapping time machine that delivers.