Review Summary: Dance! Everybody Dance!
It may be 2008, but no one's told Andrew Butler. This New York DJ/Producer, under the pseudonym 'Hercules and Love Affair', likes to rock like it’s 1977, providing Carter administration survivors with some good material for nostalgic journeys into the days of bell bottoms, roller derbies, and the occasional Saturday Night Fever. With Hercules and Love Affair
, Butler brings disco into the new millennium hard and strong. Disco is defined as “a style of popular music for dancing, usually recorded and with complex electronic instrumentation, in which simple, repetitive lyrics are subordinated to a heavy, pulsating, rhythmic beat”, and Butler sets out to deliver just that; not a bastardized “update” on the genre, but a proper record that nails every aspect of what gives disco the reputation as an insane guilty pleasure its garnered over time.
Disregard all the negative connotations associated with disco for a moment. This may be the same music that caused riots in Chicago ballparks in 1979 during the infamous “Disco Demolition Night” fiasco, but on the self titled debut, Hercules and Love Affair breaks down the genre to its original philosophy: "Only when you're dancing are you truly free." Sure to incite the occasional spasmodic Caucasian hump-dance, Hercules and Love Affair runs from start to finish unabashedly in groove-heaven, pimped out with horns, octave hopping bass-lines, and uhn-tiss-kaht-tiss beats out the wazoo. Featuring the more than capable voices of Antony (of “& the Johnsons” fame), solo siren Nomi, and the seductive tone of DJ Kim Ann, Butler's record sports ten consistently charming tracks that prove monstrously entertaining when taken both in small doses and huge gulps. Take for example the lead single “Blind”; laden with hooks and a layered lung stretching vocal performance from the male third of the vocal trio, “Blind” serves as an appropriate choice for lead single, introducing listeners to the Hercules and Love Affair sound with a pulsating beat that envelops as much as it grooves. Even at a deceptive six minutes long, “Blind” never grows tiring, instead providing seemingly endless amounts of dance-floor joy, perfectly embodying what Butler attempts to create with his Hercules and Love Affair
Butler doesn’t disappoint on the remainder of the record either, consistently delivering romps that would make the Bee Gees jealous. The pair of Greco-Roman themed tracks, “Hercules’ Theme” and “Athene”, are rev-ups of Butler’s delicious indulgences that provide appropriate theme songs to the characters who provide their respective namesakes. The former struts confidently like a half-god would (with an insanely catchy chorus), whereas “Athene”, named after the goddess of wisdom and fertility, uses Ann’s sly purr, syncopated electronics, and conga-heavy rhythms to underscore the sense of ridiculous power. Tracks such as these would be songs that lodge themselves into heads for days, but for each exceptionally captivating groove, there’s one equally as catchy later. “Hercules’ Theme” epitomizes what Hercules and Love Affair
wants to be, with catchy danceable flows and oodles of hypnotic hooks, but “You Belong” stands equally as strong at the very next track, with tribal chants, plenty of Christopher Walken-endorsed percussion, and an ethereal performance from Antony that equate to 4 minutes of foot tapping pleasure. The first five tracks of the album are pure dynamite, with tracks like "Time Will" and "Blind" playing with Antony's voice like a kid with a new toy, and the aforementioned "Hercules' Theme" and Athene" providing the theme Hercules and Love Affair prefers to adopt without sacrificing the euphoric atmosphere the remainder of the record sits so comfortably in. The opening quintet exemplifies Hercules and Love Affair alone; danceable, fun, and even a little quirky, all the while providing an entertaining experience that begs to be heard.
While the loose Greek mythology concept introduced in “Hercules’ Theme” and “Athene” is abandoned for most of the album, the tone is not; each song in its own way carries a certain sense of confidence that is easy enough to relate to, providing a key aspect to Hercules and Love Affair
’s charm: at its peak, the album is pure entertainment, a feel-good record that provides almost an hour’s worth of dance-hall bliss. The pacing of Hercules and Love Affair
serves as one of the album’s few flaws –it feels like its winding down with half the record left to play- but there’s no denying the value of the record as a whole. Hercules and Love Affair
is a killer work from Butler, an album not meant to break down any barriers or start a revolution. Yet in an age with 70’s soul revivals from the likes of Amy Winehouse and rock touch-ups from groups like Wolfmother and even The Strokes to an extent, Hercules and Love Affair throws in its hand as a revivalist for the 70’s most infamous genre with a record that can diagnose even the most jaded of modernists with a mild case of boogie fever.