John MacLean’s first couple of albums on the permanently superb DFA label perhaps, as all acts on the label were bound to do, were obscured by the genius of LCD Soundsystem who WERE the DFA label to most people. James Murphy’s premature killing off of LCD has however left a gap to be filled on DFA – a leader is needed. With ‘In A Dream’, MacLean has successfully auctioned for that part.
As can probably be guessed from the cover , ex LCD’er Nancy Whang has joined The Juan MacLean as a permanent member and here presence here is a real success. MacLean isn’t the strongest of singers and for the majority of the album, Nancy sensibly takes lead and the combination of MacLean’s programming and ear for knowingly retro sounds and her vocals produce some truly marvellous tracks. The album kicks off with A Place Called Space whose electronics recall Giorgio Moroder taking a trip on Trans Europe Express and whose crunching guitar chords surely soundtracked an 80’s detective show. Add to those a killer chorus and we’re off to a flyer. There is an 80’s synth feel throughout this album from Kraftwerk to disco and beyond. Here I Am sounds like a mid 80’s Madonna track before she left New York, Love Stops Here a New Romantic track gone dance which ends with a guitar part that New Order MUST have recorded and You Were A Runaway seems to mix up Papa Don’t Preach and Fleetwood Mac’s Little Lies to frankly marvellous effect. The album’s highlights are the mesmerising A Simple Design and the outstanding shared vocal of I’ve Waited For So Long, both of which take those 80’s synth sounds but beef them up to quite brilliant effect.
If you’re a fan of DFA acts such as LCD Soundsystem, 80’s sounding music or anything electronic with beats that will demand you dance or at the very leaf groove about a bit, this is for you. It’s superb.
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