British-American Dance Relations
As time goes on, these ‘record bulletins’ will get larger. I’ll probably keep it to two full reviews a week, but eventually honorable mentions and lemons will be worked in. None are listed now because of an unrelenting nagging to give each at least one more spin.
GOLDFRAPP – The Singles (Mute): The sequencing of this discotheque duo’s career-spanning compilation of nearly two-thirds of their singles catalogue juxtaposes spurts of hot dance numbers (“Ooh La La,” “Strict Machine”) against not-bad ballads (“Utopia,” “Melancholy Sky”), offering a leaner and tighter playlist than any of their standard studio albums. Goldfrapp’s blend of electronica and pop, regardless of their ephemeral influences, sounds overwhelmingly fresh, and Alison Goldfrapp’s voice dictates mood just as well as Will Gregory’s arrangements signal era— the Donna Summers-disco of “Ride a White Horse,” for instance, is markedly different from 80’s club pop pomp like “Rocket,” though both unmistakably bear the band’s seal. A best-of done right. A MINUS
MADONNA – MDNA (Interscope): Not surprising like her 80’s stuff, Gaga does it better, yak yak yak. No kidding she’s no longer twenty-something and will never make a career of wearing meat suits. But put aside any stupid preconceptions you have of the diva and you’ll hear a dance-pop album far finer than The Fame: The synth-tastic “Turn Up the Radio” and disco-romp “I’m a Sinner” aren’t as dumb as “Poker Face,” and besides, dance music is only “smart” when it’s detached and ironic and thus too smug for its own good. And who cares if she trades shock value for humor? She dabbles in dubstep and shoots the bitch in the head on “Gang Bang,” brushes off critics bemoaning her continuance with lines like “Every record sounds the same / You gotta step into my world,” and has Nicki Minaj rap at least on par with Natalie Portman. Go ahead. Find me a 53-year-old with this much sass to spare and I’ll say, “L! U! V! Madonna! Y! O! U! You wanna?” A MINUS