Hercules And Love Affair: Blue Songs

Hercules And Love Affair: Blue Songs

Recovering Gen-X club kids may find Hercules And Love Affair’s sophomore album intensely nostalgia-inducing; others will hear much of it as being cut from the same Spandex as C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” Either way, ringleader Andy Butler has said he wants Hercules And Love Affair to be considered equally as a songwriting enterprise and a genre experiment—and by both standards, the band’s 2008 self-titled debut succeeded, via gilded, organic disco arrangements and Antony Hegarty’s aching, velvety delivery of Butler’s lyrics. 

On Blue Songs, Hegarty is gone and Butler, following in the grand tradition of dance music about dance music’s power to liberate, fixates on defeating the tyranny of neurosis. On “Falling,” for example, a seemingly boilerplate chorus of “I am free” dramatizes the moment from the Greek myth of Theseus when a worry-stricken father finds relief in suicide. And on “My House,” a lasciviously insistent bassline duels asymmetrical glitch tones and scat-poetry grunts while Shaun Wright imperiously declares the joys of having his “own space” and a “house in order.” Without a talent like Hegarty breathing life into the words, though, a slew of less-kinetic tracks at the album’s center don’t connect emotionally, even as they dazzle with fine details—check the digitized birdsong of “Leonora”—presumably born from the intellectual fussiness that Butler writes about escaping. 

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