Fans of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” rejoice! Dynamics, the expertly produced sophomore effort from Brooklyn synth-pop duo Holy Ghost!, is unapologetically new-wave dance music. In fact, it’s so thoroughly steeped in this aesthetic that at times listening to it feels as if you’ve stepped out of a time machine and into a music video from the Eighties, cruising around with the top down on a dark and stormy night or onto the set of Drive.
For Holy Ghost!, the dance floor functions as an escape, however fleeting. Beneath Dynamics‘ upbeat rhythms lurk reluctance, depression, and wistfulness. On tension-building opener “Okay,” Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser describe serially drunk-dialing an ex, asking, It isn’t over, it isn’t, is it? “Dumb Disco Ideas,” an eight-minute slow-burning jam, ends with the refrain, Put it off, and off, and wait, wait for another day. “Dance a Little Closer” is one of the album’s best tracks, thanks in part to cooing background vocals provided by Nancy Whang of labelmate LCD Soundsystem.
All of which is to say that Holy Ghost! understands that dance music is best when it’s all about release. It’s a perspective that also informed LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, who founded DFA Records, which released Dynamics. The album isn’t without a few duds, however. “I Wanna Be Your Hand” is insipid and uninspired, and “It Must Be the Weather” is aggravating — but still catchy. (DFA Records)