Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gang Gang Dance: Eye Contact (2011)



Here's a fun one. Despite its outward pretension and mild adolescent silliness, this latest record from the lushly gritty NYC pop outfit Gang Gang Dance will offer either a night of dimly lit fun or a fit of vague but intoxicating nostalgia. It comes on like a trance or trip-hop revision of Siouxsie and the Banshees, with loads of electricity thanks to singer Lizzi Bougatsos's full-throated conviction. The album seldom rises above its self-imposed murk. but it offers a mood that is easy to fall into and that one is reluctant to leave.

Eleven-minute opener "Glass Jar," though, has next to nothing to do with the rest of the record. It's an edgily paranoid, decadent crime scene of a song, constantly edging toward a climax that never truly arrives; intriguing and hypnotic though it is, it's by far the least accessible of these songs. Following the curious and rather needless interlude "∞" (later followed by "∞∞" and "∞∞∞" to equally dubious effect), the record kicks off properly with what amounts to a long medley of six equally infectious dance songs. Some are better than others, but the variance depends largely on the melody vocal melody -- "Sacer" starts to annoy after a couple of minutes -- because the songs, particularly toward the end, tend to run together. It seems this is deliberate; the band sounds admirably confident for the duration after the awkwardly placed opener.

At their best ("Adult Goth," "MindKilla," and the irresistible "Romance Layers"), Gang Gang Dance know their way around a feverish pop melody that can heighten the senses and enact pure bliss in the vein of Madonna's "Open Your Heart," but in a perfectly novel twist, all with the bleakness and dread of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or PJ Harvey. It's the dark catharsis of grooving your way out of the shittiness; few things feel more liberating.

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