Hercules And Love Affair – Hercules And Love Affair (2008): Review

hercules

Produced by Andy Butler & Tim Goldsworthy
Label – DFA Records

Have you heard about this new thing that’s going on in New York? Well, it’s called disco and everybody is talking about it! All the hipster music hacks across the pond are praising it as the most innovative, cutting edge phenomena to have struck the dance floor in light years. All of a sudden, it’s ‘cool’ to like it, because those nice folks on the scene at Pitchfork say it’s good. “Lush, melancholic, gregarious, generous, both precise and a little bit unhinged–this is the most original American dance album in a long while” they said of Hercules And Love Affair’s eponymous debut, and who’s to challenge them? Well here’s a lone voice to offer an alternate perspective. It’s possibly the first review that doesn’t drool all over the album; it may be the last. “Hercules And Love Affair” is a very ordinary disco album, with few genuine moments of excitement. It’s a rehashed and reconstituted mix of 70s Disco and 80s House mulch that fails to ignite either the heart or feet. The project’s masterminds, DJ Andy Butler and DFA head honcho Tim Goldsworthy have faithfully raided the influential archives, and The Hues Corporation, Donna Summer, George McCrae, Andrea True Connection, and Sylvester can all be heard in the 10 songs, and vocal input is supplied by ‘messianic’ Torch singer Antony Hegarty, club promoter Kim-Ann Foxmann, and transsexual NYC scenester Nomi. Hegarty is typically downcast, Foxmann sounds bored and Nomi out of his/her depth.

hercules1

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Butler is attempting to mix upbeat dance music with overtly arty, melodramatic vocals. Disco by its very nature is joyously uncluttered in its lyrical simplicity. People just want to dance, disengage the thought process, and let the rhythms envelop them. In addition, Hegarty needs a richly expansive instrumental backdrop to support his emotionally androgynous voice, not the machine beats and waves of synths he competes with here. There are moments that have resonant impact but they’re rare indeed. The largely instrumental “Hercules Theme” and the single “Blind” immerse you in warm organic rhythms, rippling synth lines that progress with the level of individuality the rest of this collection simply doesn’t attain. The rest is just too melancholic, lacks strong melodies, and vitally, has little zip. I just don’t hear anything here that would encourage anyone to rush to the floor.

Be honest, what rating would this album have got if it was on a major label and Boy George was providing vocals instead of Hegarty? A little less than Pitchfork’s 9.1 I would suggest.

5/10

Track Listing
1.”Time Will” – 4:34
2.”Hercules Theme” – 4:30
3.”You Belong” – 4:12
4.”Athene” – 4:00
5.”Blind” – 6:18
6.”Iris” – 4:16
7.”Easy” – 5:22
8.”This Is My Love” – 4:58
9.”Raise Me Up” – 3:52
10.”True/False, Fake/Real” – 4:33

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