Hercules & Love Affair – Blue Songs

January 01, 1970

(Moshi Moshi)




Andy Butler’s Hercules & Love Affair, on its second
album, continues to emerge as a leader in efforts to ensure that “modernica” –
electronica-infused new music that has experimentalist and classical overtones
but also pop smarts and lyrical accessibility – proudly acknowledges its roots
in 1970s disco/dance. To that end, Butler
may be today’s closest proponent of Arthur Russell.


On Blue Songs, the
singers/collaborators he’s put together to perform his songs – including Kim
Ann Foxman, Aerea Negret of Venezuela, Shaun Wright, Kele Okereke and Mark
Pistel – understand the mission, as does techno producer Patrick Pulsinger. And
the beat always has the melodic elasticity that makes good dance music
irresistible. This record doesn’t have Antony Hegarty to push an insistently
pulsating, sunshiny bright song like the first album’s “Blind” into hit status,
but Blue Songs has impressive diversity
and variety. “My House” and “Step Up” are great dance numbers, but the chord
changes and powerful choruses avoid the monotony that can set in with House
music. (“Answers Come in Dreams” struggles with that problem, however.) Butler
– like Russell before him – sometimes goes for something wistfully reflective
and quiet, like the lovely “Boy Blue” and the clarinet-infused chamber-pop of
the outstanding title song. With several fair-to-middlin’ unlisted bonus tracks
on the main disc, and a second disc of remixes, Butler needs to learn how to
limit his output for maximum impact. But what’s good is very good.


House,” “Blue Songs” STEVEN ROSEN


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