By Eric Chavez
Turn off the lights! Groove Armada is back and ready to set the mood for the underground party of the year. The electronic duo have proven themselves over years to be the kings of clubs, and Black Light, the duo’s latest disc, spins the two back on the dancefloor. An album completely soaked in ’80s-inspired new wave/pop, Black Light makes for the perfect party LP for those who love the ’80s, but what about the rest? Does Black Light shine? Or is it merely a box of broken bulbs?
“History,” the album’s smoothest track, glides back and forth to a euphoric groove with grace. With both substance and style, “History” makes for an interesting lesson. If there was a song on the track that demands to be a single, it would be this. Not learning from history, the duo put the limp “I Won’t Kneel” as the premiere song. Think of it as the first broken bulb.
“Shameless” is actually quite the innocent-sounding track. With drops of tingling piano chords and a smooth electro-clash backdrop, the track grooves the night away. “Look Me in the Eye Sister,” one of the more striking productions, is as in-your-face as it can get, though it could’ve used a stronger vocalist. “Paper Romance” sounds like it would be older brother “Look Me in the Eye Sister,” taking the sound electro-punk/rock sound to a higher level. SaintSavior makes this “Paper Romance” one worth buying.
“Warsaw,” the album’s opener, is as underground club as you can get. No real rhythm here, but it captures the sound of Black Light as best as anyone could. Looking closer, though, this would be the second broken bulb. Shining brighter, “Just for Tonight” sparkles as the album’s closer. Mixing acoustic guitar with hot electo-beats, Grove Armada add some light to the dark disc.
Groove Armada dives a bit into dark-pop with “Fall Silent,” one of the more sullen songs and winner of the third broken bulb, but they re-energize with “Not Forgotten” and “Time & Space” by adding a surge of power and energy into the grooves. When it comes to the vocals, “Time & Space” gets the award for best performance; SaintSavior definitely saves the record throughout. The problem here, though, is the lack of rhythm thorought. Little of the disc is dance-worthy and many of bulbs remain broken.
At the end of the day, this Black Light looses a bit of energy. Groove Armada still have the moves, but not so much the motion. Some tracks groove you, others soothe you, but none really cause a commotion. Appearances of special guests such as Will Young, Jessica Larrebee, and Fenech-Soler don’t add much to the mix. With all its flaws, Black Light is rather dim.