I Am the World Trade Center – The Cover Up

Things haven’t been easy for the boyfriend-and-girlfriend duo of Dan Geller and Amy Dykes. After September 11, 2001, the band considered changing its name (as did other unfortunately relevant bands with names like Burning Airlines) but ultimately decided against it. Then, with a new album almost ready for release, the band’s label, Kindercore, folded in the midst of a legal hullabaloo. Finally, at a new home on Gammon Records and The Cover Up ready for release, Dykes was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, prompting the duo to stop touring while she underwent treatment (which is still underway but hasn’t totally stopped her from doing her weekly DJ gigs at the band’s home in Athens, Ga.). And that’s on top of all the “normal” struggles of a small band with a unique sound.

So with medical bills surely piling up, but no way to tour in support of the new album, it somehow feels even more important to spread the word about the duo’s tight, inventive, and decidedly fun style of indie dance-rock. I’d consider giving The Cover Up a good review even if I didn’t like it, but fortunately, it’s the band’s most mature and tight album to date.

From the first glorious hip-swaying, head-nodding moments of “No Expectations,” the band is in fine form. Heavily beat-heavy, with some funky keyboards and Dykes sounding better than ever, the song is catchy and tight. The beats are heavy and strong in the lovely “Love Tragedy,” where Dykes sounds quite a bit like Debbie Harry, and “Deny It” is so catchy, with both Geller and Dykes singing, that you can’t help but dance. (As a side note, this is the only band I’ve seen live where literally every person in the joint was dancing, myself included, and that’s rare.) Dykes has a similarly Harry-esque feel on the more rocking “Different Stories,” and the title track has a killer bass-line that compliments perfectly the electronic beats and synths. And the closer, “Rock It,” suits its name perfectly.

Unlike many electronic bands, there’s no five- or 10-minute instrumental jams of repetitive beats and bleeps. That’s where the ‘rock’ comes in, because I Am the World Trade Center rocks well. See “Great Escape,” a nod to new-wave as much as a modern dance-rock song. Even more new-wavey in its catchy New Order-esque beats and synths, “Future Sightings” is a wonderful track, probably the best on the album, with perfectly sung lines like “Now you can kiss me, because we’re older / I’m falling faster, I’m falling over.” The surprisingly cheery feeling “Going Underground” sounds like Dressy Bessy or even Bis gone electronic, perfectly mixing pop with fun beats and up-tempo rock. The upbeat synth-rock of “Silent Film Stars” is half retro, half modern, and totally intense.

I’m not sure what stands out the most about The Cover Up, whether it’s the tremendous production values or the clear confidence the band has with its music. The lyrics here are more personal, more contemplative, yet the music is still as fun and danceable as anything the band ever did, except it’s so tight as to make you wonder if it would be possible to do it better. So buy this album because the band can use the support, and buy it because it’s a great album.