Those still pining for LCD Soundsystem might find succour in the fairly prolific output of the band’s alumni. The voice of keyboardist Nancy Whang was all over recent releases by Classixx and The Juan MacLean; Hot Chip (with whom LCD shared a guitarist, Al Doyle) released 2012’s excellent In Our Heads, while the band’s DFA imprint has been responsible for releases by – among others – Holy Ghost! and the exquisitely-named Shit Robot. These albums share LCD Soundsystem’s innate sense of rhythm and impeccable taste, if not their knack for a transcendental hook.
Museum Of Love’s self-titled debut album is the latest release to bear DFA’s imprimatur. The band comprises LCD Soundsystem’s drummer Pat Mahoney on lead vocals and The Juan MacLean’s Dennis McNany on production and instrumentation. The results are nine tracks which genre-hop impressively, albeit within the predictable parameters of ‘cool’: synth pop, house and Krautrock. (Although there is one less predictable exception, more of which later.)
Interestingly, most of the drum tracks on Museum Of Love sound like they came from a machine; the record is a showcase for Mahoney’s vocals, rather than his rhythmical prowess. The track record of drummers stepping up to the microphone to sing lead vocals is, to put it kindly, patchy, but Mahoney’s voice is an impressive thing: deep and dolorous, like a rawer, untrained version of Antony Hegarty. It sounds most at home on the ballads: the sinister Down South, the strange Monotronic and the gorgeous FATHERS.
The last of these is the album’s highlight. Over bubbling synths and an intermittent, undulating bassline, Mahoney risks embarrassing himself as his voice reaches above its natural range, but it’s actually an extremely affecting performance. The song is redolent of peak-era Soft Cell: no faint praise.
Mahoney’s voice is less prominent when Museum Of Love cut loose on the faster tracks. The Who’s Who Of Who Cares, with its deliberately synthetic-sounding brass sounds, could have been lifted off the first Hercules And Love Affair album, while The Large Glass is a Krautrock homage that recalls Neu! at their noisiest.
Museum Of Love saves its biggest surprise until its last track. On And All The Winners, Mahoney unleashes his falsetto once again, this time accompanied by instrumentation that recalls, of all things, Something Inside So Strong by Labi Siffre. It’s a soul song, pure and simple, and quite lovely.
Museum Of Love lacks a big, standout track that’s likely to attract the attention of anyone not already smitten by the band’s affiliated acts. But it’s still a very good record that succeeds at being alternately funky and affecting.