In the 1970s, when someone described a musical artist as “disco,” there was little to no possibility of misunderstanding exactly what that meant. Disco was disco, the kind of hedonistic Studio 54 fodder perfected by Chic, Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder. Now, calling something “disco” isn’t quite saying enough. There’s the glittery 1970s brand of dance pop, a 1990s hi-NRG variant, DFA style post-punk dance, Arthur Russell’s early ’80s beat funk or Italo-disco. Then there’s also the Italians Do It Better style that bridges the latter three, and also discopunk, and by this point it probably gets a bit confusing for anyone who doesn’t regularly dig through 12-inch crates or frequent the coolest clubs. But now there’s Music Go Music, and their particular type of disco is a whole new sound to try and get one’s head around.
Los Angeles-based Music Go Music, to some degree, harkens back to disco with a capital “D.” The group’s debut album Expressions is more ABBA than Arthur Russell, more Donna Summer than ChkChkChk, a swirling polyester wonderland that invites the listener to strap on her rollerskates and let the glitter fly. But Music Go Music doesn’t quite yield at disco, spreading their wings to encompass an even broader representation of 1970s-style pop music, from Electric Light Orchestra’s theatrical pop to Heart’s divalicious rock `n’ roll. One thing Music Go Music doesn’t do, however, is subtlety. Every track is a gigantic production, full of flash and flair, erupting with giddiness and sex appeal, and damned if it isn’t an infectious cocktail.
Starting off the album with as spectacular a production imaginable, Music Go Music unleashes the über-catchy and aurally overwhelming “I Walk Alone,” a dance-heavy track with classical guitar flourishes, huge synths and singer Gala Bell’s humdinger of a chorus: “since you left me abandoned/ hollow and heavy now it seems/ I live life in the twilight/ I walk alone through waking dreams.” Lighter on beats but still thick with hooks and sugar, “Thousand Crazy Nights” shimmies and shakes with saloon piano and tambourine-a-plenty. Consider “Light of Love” their “Dancing Queen,” which isn’t too far off the mark. All ethereal synths and bouncy rhythms, it’s a retro-pop treat, done surprisingly earnestly, which makes it all the more incredible. “Reach Out” lays on the heavy rock riffs, but the big “wow” moment comes with the epic, nine-minute electro-disco jam “Warm In the Shadows,” with billowing synth leads, ultra-funky guitars and Bell’s gorgeous, reverb-heavy vocals.
Music Go Music isn’t exactly disco, that’s just what they do a fairly large chunk of the time on Expressions. Of course, they also master blazing art rock, dramatic ELO-style pop and a few acoustic ditties as well. It’s tempting to call it “kitsch,” but everything here is so masterfully executed, so wonderfully crafted, that frankly I’m extremely impressed with Music Go Music’s chops. And the best thing about it is that, should you throw this album on at any random party, people shouldn’t have any problem getting down.
The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic
ABBA – Gold
Goldfrapp – Supernature
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.