Album Reviews

The Polyamorous Affair – Bolshevik Disco

(Manimal Vinyl) UK release date: 24 August 2009

They say music helps us through adversity. Indeed it does, but the opening strains of Bolshevik Disco are keen to hammer that point home from the off, with some David Byrne-like vocals taking cover as the music does its best to soldier on, under heavy fire from tanks and machine guns.

It’s the start of a record of curious contrasts. For The Polyamorous Affair are an LA-based duo, on to their second album after their glitzy first won acclaim from the likes of Perez Hilton. For the sequel they are writing music seemingly lifted from a Moscow dancefloor in the 1980s which, if it had come out 30 years back, might have been a building block for the end of the Cold War.

Now, however, it just sounds rather odd. The duo do have hit making previous, with Eddie Chacon one half of the early 1990s truth tellers Charles & Eddie. Joining him are the glacier-cool tones of partner Sissy Sainte-Marie, deadpanning her way through some slowish electro tunes with little more than a raised eyebrow.

The voice is probably the best thing about this collaboration, but even then it fails to raise such efforts as a cover of Satellite Of Love above the memorable. Here the music just sounds flat rather than deadpan, too cool for school, and not rhythmic enough. Much better is White Magic, probably the pick of the album, and set to a beat reminiscent of Depeche Mode, revealing a quirkier edge.

That’s all forgotten by the time You Are comes around, the lyrical well of inspiration running dry as Eddie and Sissy deadpan declarations of love to each other. “You are my wish list, you are my catalyst,” she sings. “You are my demon, something to believe in,” he responds. Bonnie & Clyde it ain’t.

One advantage for the Bolshevik Disco is that influences can be worn with luminous visibility on the sleeve. Gathering the deadpan glam of David Bowie, Roxy Music and Soft Cell is never going to be a bad set of influences, but the way they are used still leaves the listener questing for more. There’s a fine line in using your influences for good or just taking them straight, at face value.

Sadly it’s all too cool for school in the end, music you daren’t put a hair out of place to while dancing. “You’ve gotta push your fashion to the limit”, says Fashion. Maybe, but it would help if the music did the same sometimes.

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The Polyamorous Affair – Bolshevik Disco