Disco has always been among the best-produced genres in popular music. Seriously, next time you’re at a sketchy 24-hourdiner and the obligatory spinning of Stayin’ Alive infiltrates thejukebox, listen for anything in the production that makesthe song sound dated. Besides the niggling image of John Travolta thatwill forever be attached to the song, it really sounds like itcould’ve been released yesterday.
It’s also what’s generally thought of asa “singles” genre. In fact, the primary holdover from disco’s late ’70s golden age is the SaturdayNight Fever soundtrack – naturally, an LP made up of essentialdance-floor singles.
But that notion of single-mindedness has changed of late. Since the release ofHercules and Love Affair’s excellent 2008 self-titled album, we’ve seen asurprising and strong return to album-focused disco. With a greateremphasis on emotional resonance – but without sacrificing any hip-swinging -the scene has been brought back to life from almost pure parody.
Enter Fan Death, a Vancouver by-way-of Brooklyn collective primarilycomprised of boyfriend-girlfriend combo Dandilion Wind Opaine and SzamFindlay, both best known for their warped, post-industrialmain-project Dandi Wind. They’re not the most likely source for a full-length disco record, but it works well for them.
Fan Death’s debut album, Womb of Dreams, has a lot more incommon with the aforementioned Hercules and Love Affair albumthan most traditional disco influences. Like Antony Hegarty, Opaine sings witha direct urgency, which sometimes cuts through the danceability ofthe song’s beat work.
Opener Constellations, although probablyinitially incepted as a slow-dancing, movie-credits ballad, iscompletely overpowered by her voice, even overshadowing the otherwiseincredibly meticulous string work by Marlene Ginader. Opaine canoccasionally come across as too strong for her own diva-ness; she has great pipes,and the production clearly accentuates that, but it can occasionallyoutweigh the flow of the album.
But not all of the songs on Womb Of Dreams have that problem. The album becomes more traditionalist and(un-coincidentally) more fun-loving around its middle. Here, songs range from the fuck-you, boom-bapping When TheMoney’s Right to the spacey Italo disco of The Best Night of my Life.This is where the album most closely resembles fellow 2010 disco opus,!!!‘s Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, in terms of pure, unstoppablemomentum. When Fan Death are clicking, they’re a force to be reckonedwith, the band’s chemistry practically oozing from the songs.
Womb Of Dreams, however, has no Blind. There isn’t one particular track thatstands above everything else. Nothing here stands much chance for universally assaultingclubs and mixes for the rest of the year. But for disco fans holding their collective breaths for a full-on revivalafter the last decade’s scattered glimmers of hope, Fan Death is, perhaps, a fitting indication of things to come.