Over the past few years the term ‘guilty pleasure’ has gone from meaning just that – something you enjoy, but hide away for fear of being mocked – to something more all encompassing. It’s now an excuse that can be used to cover all bases: “Yeah, Jedward are my ‘guilty pleasure’. I know they’re rubbish, but I’m being deeply ironic.” Nine times out of 10, these people genuinely enjoy Jedward, but feel like they can’t confess it without slotting the prism of irony into place.
In many ways, Music Go Music – a trio from LA featuring husband and wife David and Meredith Metcalf, as well as the mysterious Torg – are a band who embody this idea of making the uncool cool. Their sound takes all the elements of 1970s disco and pop and ramps up the obvious while downplaying the subtlety. The fact that they all bonded over a mutual love for ABBA should come as no surprise. Given the right amount of radio play, they could well do a Scissor Sisters and crossover to the mainstream.
Much of Expressions plays out like a wedding DJ’s dream playlist. Opener I Walk Alone gallops along joyfully, all major chords, twinkling keyboards and Torg’s dramatic guitar breaks. You can already picture aunties doing the soft shoe shuffle as the chorus explodes. Elsewhere, single Light Of Love is an ABBA cover in all but name, complete with bouncing piano riffs and perfectly pitched harmonies. Closer Goodbye Everyone would make the perfect slow dance, its Carpenters-esque way with a melody that aims for emotion.
In the context of the album, the nine-minute Warm In The Shadows sounds almost out of place. Its slow-burn build-up and general air of experimentation is at odds with the short, sharp shock of the rest of the set. Thankfully, it still possesses an almighty chorus and, rather than stretching their sound to breaking point, it just keeps adding extra layers, including a rather wonderful guitar solo from Torg.
Unfortunately, as with any album that displays its influences so readily, there’s not much here that tells us who Music Go Music really are. The fact that each member goes by a pseudonym and that they all have other musical projects creates a whiff of part-time folly, as if each song comes with a knowing nudge and a wink. For the most part our suspicions are buried by the quality of the songs, but there are times on the weaker tracks – Love, Violent Love, the overblown Reach Out – where the joke wears thin.
Minor criticisms aside, Expressions deserves to be heard by as many people as possible, not least because it’s fun watching a band that will clearly polarise opinion make it big. Guilty pleasure or not, Music Go Music have created an album it’s easy to enjoy. Sometimes that’s more than enough.