‘Dynamics’ the sophomore album by Lower East Side synthpop duo Holy Ghost! (DFA Records) delivers glimpses of the dance explosion the world craved after Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ juxtaposed against the drizzle-drenched Mancunian bellow of New Order, the complex beats of Talking Heads, the gobbledygook lyrics of Duran Duran and the instantaneousness of Hall and Oates.
The dance explosion of hit single Dumb Disco Ideas unfurls over eight minutes of nonstop floor-filling disco energy. It’s intricately laden with synthetic and live percussion evolving over bass and guitar grooves that evoke label-mates The Rapture and Talking Heads’ classic concert film ‘Stop Making Sense’, so much so that the only thing it’s missing is Bernie Worrell’s porno moustache. This potent cocktail of sounds is mirrored by the lyrical contradictions that flitter from slacker manifesto to carpe diem and back again. Either way it’s nothing short of anthemic.
Songs like Okay and Changing Of The Guard reside safely in synthpop cruise-control; nothing overly exciting or underwhelming happens, while Dance A Little Closer is more likely to make it into the DJ booth, offering plenty of opportunities to invite the opposite sex to “dance a little closer.” In other words it’s deliriously cheesy fun, in the best possible way. It Must Be The Weather sees Holy Ghost take on the synthpop power ballad in yet another mid-paced track. Once again it’s infectious in a cheese-riddled way with lyrics like “it must be the weather/the violence inside of me grows.”
I Wanna Be Your Hand is a Fleetwood Mac-esque toe-tapper with a hint of MGMT; think Dreams with an emphasis on synth lines. This track is somewhat marred by the fact that it borrows the melody from 60 Miles An Hour by New Order transferring it into a chiming bell motif in the process. The party vibe returns as Holy Ghost throws the disco kitchen sink at Bridge And Tunnel; handclaps, strings, bass and guitar swirl as the vocals proclaim “back to New York City/true love.” in the third bona fide dance floor filler on the album.
Don’t Look Down like many of the tracks is a bemusingly infectious radio-friendly slightly uptempo affair with just the right amount of hook to keep you listening, but you’re not necessarily blown away by what you’re hearing. It’s the kind of track that will have you singing along for reasons you can’t quite explain. New Order-inspired Cheap Shots closes the album with Holy Ghosts’ most successful mid-tempo offering. The influence of Bernard Sumner drips through the slow-building intro, the vocals and the angular guitar work throughout the track, which could easily tell the tale of DFA Records founders James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy “your friends will hurt you/just to let you know.”
While the majority of ‘Dynamics’ is catchy and melodically sound it may contain too many tracks that are slightly dancy rather than no holds barred disco for existing fans. However the slower moments are well crafted and provide enough hooks to keeps you interested once you’ve accepted the fact that you love ’80s synthpop.
If you like Holy Ghost! you should check out Irish dance act Le Galaxie