Hercules and Love Affair - The Feast of the Broken Heart - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hercules and Love Affair - The Feast of the Broken Heart

by Alexander Segall Rating:7 Release Date:2014-05-26

House music was all about hardening the edges of disco; the pioneers in Chicago were underground mavericks, and the scene was grimy, grotty and utterly transcendent. Over the years, with the continual forward motion of dance music, house has splintered into a thousand different glittering shards of plasticky beats and superclubs.


What Andy Butler has done over the course of three albums is educate the yoof of today’s America and Europe that house was all about empowerment; that house was about disco and dancing, not pogoing; and that you could write songs, not anthems, and still fill a floor with crazed dancing loons.


Moving from bona fide star vocalists such as Antony (of the Johnsons) and Kele Okereke (of Bloc Party) Butler dials down the star wattage somewhat but comes back with some really strong floor-fillers. Whereas the self-titled debut took house to strange and somewhat sideways places, and Blue Songs into the twilight of the comedown, The Feast of the Broken Heart takes the disco-revivalism of Scissor Sisters and delivers a fairly solid early 80s impersonation of the source inspiration.


Opening like an anomalous theme song, which sounds more like a house version of a Bond theme, 'My Offence' kicks off the proceedings with dirty synths and Krystle Warren’s smoky vocals giving it the post-disco diva treatment. She also features on 'The Light', a sparser track with huge beats and light arpeggiated synths. 


There are three other guest vocalists - Gustaph, who has 'That’s Not Me', a bright bouncing track with the now almost-standard 'inspirational' lyrics - lots of rising above and finding true love. Singer-songwriter John Grant, formally of The Czars, has two great tracks. The powerful and lean 'Liberty' has an almost music-box sounding synth and a wonderfully jarring vocal on top - his elisions are almost Balkan in their tone. Grant’s crowning moment, though, is the brilliant 'I Try to Talk to You', whose pianos and string-hit sit in contention with a song about being HIV positive, a topic rarely touched on in popular music, and one which here is far more powerful than any other lyric on the disc.


The final collaborator is Rouge Mary, American-French stage performer; on '5.43 to Freedom', the music lifts the anodyne sentiment to something approaching uplifting (at least, it would do on a dancefloor). 'Think' has the best of his three vocals - he drops into the lower part of his range, and the lyrics have the right level of menace to fit his very 80s-funk style. 'The Key', though, is a much better track, the beat pushing away from four to the floor, and the bass wobbling and stretching around his vocals in a much more intimate way than the bigger house tunes.  


As an album closer, it works brilliantly - there’s nothing Andy Butler and co want you to do more than give in to love, and dance the night away until you find it.

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