Moving Units – Dangerous Dreams

Moving Units
Dangerous Dreams

I’ll give the average DOA reader credit for knowing more about the dance-punk movement than I do. To the best of my knowledge, it started with either the Rapture or !!!, at least tangentially involved bands like Franz Ferdinand and the Futureheads (they all cite Gang of Four as influences, so to me they are all brethren), and is probably overdue for a backlash, if it hasn’t already begun. My rule is that if a band is too identified with a sudden genre, I’ll tune in three years later. If they still exist, fine, I’ll investigate; if not, than I assume I didn’t miss anything. Thanks to this asinine policy I’ve been spared the two-tone revival, horrorcore, nu-metal, electroclash (I still have no idea what the hell that was), and countless other dead genres, leaving ample time to wallow in the unchangeables.

Dangerous Dreams can’t help but have the air of bandwagon-jumping about it. Suddenly angular guitars and stuttering hi-hats are everywhere, and who shows up insisting that they had planned this all along? Moving Units, that’s who. Zeitgeist is a funny thing, I guess, and all those unconsummated 80s influences were bound to erupt in these young lions, so why hold it against Moving Units that they sound so similar to their peers, all raised in the same musical environment more or less?

For the first four songs of Dangerous Dreams, the grudge is easier to hold since the Los Angeles-based trio fails to offer anything essential in terms of invention or in just plain fun. That begins to change with “Unpersuaded” though. Suddenly, the groove explodes, competing vocals heckle each other, and the snare drum spasms en route to the chorus. The record finds its identity, or at least its mojo, and for the next few songs it is bliss. Without doubt, “Scars” is the highlight, doomed to the inevitable Interpol comparisons to be sure, but also too damn good to be overlooked.

“Killer/Lover” may be an even better template for future Moving Units successes. A nervy thumper with a brief, hypnotic chorus between agitated verses, it sounds a bit more curious as to the possibilities to be explored with this trio’s tried-and-true approach. Here is where the band sounds like it is actually drawing on deep influences instead of playing to its peers.

Moving Units are painfully of-the-moment in some senses but awfully good fun as well. Will this band be here in three years? I have no idea. Will it have anything to offer once the dance-punk thing has tired? I told you I have no fucking idea! Dangerous Dreams is definitely a good time though, but if it doesn’t grace your late 2004 get-togethers now it may not get another chance until the dance-punk revival circa 2010.