Thursday, January 29, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2008: 4. HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR - Hercules and Love Affair

Detractors and critics are inclined to dismiss the music of Hercules and Love Affair as mere revivalism or pastiche. It’s an understandable viewpoint, given the obvious debt their debut LP owes to vintage late-70’s disco or Chicago house, but such labelling sells the New York-based collective short: there’s too much inventiveness to the arrangements, too much naked emotion in the vocals, too much vibrancy to the beats for this to be regarded as shallow imitation. Main-man Andrew Butler and co-producer Tim Goldsworthy may be the brains behind the operation, but their choice of collaborators is crucial: Antony Hegarty was the main attraction upon the album’s release, his extraordinary voice combining with a propulsive disco beat and infectious horn stabs to take ‘Blind’ into the stratosphere; Nomi’s turn on the almost weightless ‘You Belong’ is immaculately-judged, pitched somewhere between soulful and seductive; while Kim Ann Foxman steals the show on the gorgeously evocative, downtempo ‘Iris’. Pervading the album is a sense of doubt and loss that adds an extra flavour of poignancy to its dancefloor-friendly grooves: this is good-time music with one eye on the comedown.

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