Some records demand a certain atmosphere. If you aren’t introduced to Italodisco freaks Heartbreak in a discotheque, you’ll immediately imagine the setting: darkness punctured by bright neon lights, the beats passing through your body, frantic dancing from everyone in sight.
Heartbreak’s music would of course be better appreciated in this sort of night club setting. But since most of us can’t spend all of our free time on the disco scene, singer Sebastian Muravchix and keyboardist Ali Renault are focused on bringing the disco to us.
And this indeed proves to be Heartbreak’s one and only goal: to exude disco from every pore of their music. They do so by maintaining the same driving mid-tempo beat – a constant stomp that can’t be quelled – across every song of their debut album, Lies.
They also make self-referential music: disco songs that talk about disco, dancing, and everything associated. The album’s format works perfectly for this: tracks fit together like a club mix for an entire night of dancing, and at close to an hour long, Lies does a pretty good job of keeping the party going.
Brandishing an updated ’80s Italodisco sound, the dancey duo aren’t afraid of putting their influences on display. Muravchix’s silky vocals glide over Renault’s drum-machine beats and synth samples, recalling Pet Shop Boys, and much of the Heartbreak’s playful exuberance comes through in a fashion similar to The B-52s.
But something else is happening here: fuzzy drones and fractured, pulsating synths bring an element of madness to the dance. Imagine the distorted, sinister keyboards on Radiohead‘s Myxomatosis sped up and paired with a synth line from The Killers, and you’ll have the basis for We’re Back. When Muravchix launches into the track with his spacey vocals, you have the makings of some powerful, futuristic disco music.
Lies has several variations on the same theme. (You should be able to guess what that theme is by now.) There are no deeper significances or hidden meanings to tracks like Akin To Dancing, Give Me Action, and Living Just For Fun. And even more abstractly titled tracks (Deadly Pong Of Love, Robot’s Got The Feeling) are pretty self-explanatory after a single listen. But that’s just it: you don’t need any deeper meaning with Heartbreak. Dance is enough.
Even so, what often happens with many talented artists (and here Heartbreak is not exempt) is that their departure from set musical formulae brings out their greatest achievements. Heartbreak’s instrumental breakdowns and digressions prove far more interesting than the core elements of their songs, which exist as essentially standard ’80s beats and vocalizations.
With a small push in the right direction, Heartbreak could shed their ’80s skin and develop into something even more beautiful. But for now, just get out there and embrace the dance.