Remember when disco was cool again? The year was 2007, and indie kids took to the revival as a flamboyant soundtrack to their flamboyant dance nights. James Murphy and DFA were in the same position as pre-eminent tastemakers of electronic music that Master P and No Limit were in the rap game circa
'98. Everything they touched, it seemed, turned to gold.
Since then, the honorary members of that once-stacked DFA dream team have overhauled their sound to accommodate a popular dance-music public more accepting of house music than ever before - or else they've settled for a career of DJing silly retro nights at swanky NYC clubs. No shame in that, but not exactly the imagined ceiling when disco started jumping off again half a decade ago. Hercules and Love Affair seemed to be in the silly-retro-nights group until Blue Songs, a touch-up of their decadent homonymous debut, but only slightly. Andy Butler makes no play for anything that could be considered current, instead opting to relocate to a different era. Absent is Antony Hegarty and the hands-in-the-air exaltation of the debut, replaced with Kele of Bloc Party and a cast of relative unknowns re-creating the post-disco sound of the mid '80s, drawing equally from the garage stylings of Larry Levan and the early stages of Haçienda rave. "Step Up," featuring Kele, is the type of chugging anthem you hear at peak club time, the one that makes you reach deep for moves you never realized you had in you. And "My House" is pure 1990 Ibiza. But the album stutters heavily in the middle. Hercules are a 12-inch outfit, and "Boy Blue" and "Blue Song" are failed attempts at varying the mood with some despondency. As if they wanted to make Blue Songs more than a collection of singles, which it isn't.