Italians Do It Better
Making use of the ethereal soundscapes and detached vocal style synonymous with classic cosmic disco and wedding it to a skeletal electro framework, B/E/A/T/B/O/X is a work of gleaming nocturnal beauty, a sports car parked outside a ludicrously elite nightclub. But for all its strobe-lit, precision-tool perfection (and despite 'Introduction's mocking take on the very 80s/very now fad of the fitness instructor as life guru) this is not really dance music. It's just too poised, too goddam expensive to do anything as proletarian as sweat, darling. Like the oeuvre of Miss Kitten, the music on B/E/A/T/B/O/X is designed to be as sophisticated and as vacant as a diamond.
Several of the tracks, like the fluttering 'Etheric Device' and the stately 'Candy Castle' ride an unending trancelike wave inspired by Donna Summer's self-love classic 'I Feel Love'. Like that song, Glass Candy's grooves re-inscribe the body as a passive, pleasure receiving device. Sometimes this is knowingly kitsch, as on 'Computer Love' where singer Ida No's intones "I need a rendezvous" in classic pouty sexbot style, sometimes, as on penultimate track 'Last Night I Met a Costume', the emptiness of the sound palpably aches to be filled with sensation, the iciness to be thawed with emotion.
Both that instrumental and the more upbeat 'Life After Sundown' owe a debt to the groundbreaking music of director John Carpenter, whose soundtrack to his own cult classic Assault on Precinct 13 was taunt, minimalist electronica at a time when only Krautrock bands Kraftwerk and Cluster were exploring similar sonic avenues. This influence adds a spooky unease to Glass Candy's tales of glamorous excess, making the setting seem more Valley of the Dolls than Saturday Night Fever. However, there's no doubting the disco glory they achieve on standout track 'Rolling Down the Hills', a kaleidoscopic, soaring dream replete with brass fanfare and cascading harp. Just how disco fabulous is it? In 2009, Jarvis Cocker sampled it on his Steve Albini-produced album Further Complications. Even buried beneath layer of feedback sludge and lacerating Northern wit, it still sounded like the best night out you've ever had.
Best tracks: 'Rolling Down the Hills', 'Candy Castle', 'Etheric Device'