Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

Hercules and Love Affair
Hercules and Love Affair

In past years, it definitely seems to me at least, that every year is a good year for the electronic(a) genre. Last year was a supposed weak year for hip-hop/rap, the year before we didn’t have a lot of solid rock albums and the list goes on. Well, 2008 is no different in terms of electronic music. Almost four months in and we have a great set of albums to add to our CD racks.

Electronic music is often downplayed or disregarded because “real” instruments are not used to create its sonic sound. And though this statement may be true in a strictly technical sense, the genre still lives and breaths of rich and diverse music. What we have been lacking — inside the electronic genre itself — is some good, old fashioned disco music. Wait, what? Disco’s dead? And it’s been dead for almost thirty years? Tell that to Andrew Butler, the brilliant producer/DJ behind Hercules and Love Affair. With his craft of smart, funky, bouncy and extremely danceable music, Hercules and Love Affair’s self-titled debut is a wonderful piece of music.

Now, the album is produced by both Butler and friend Tim Goldsworthy and other members are rumored to include Kim Ann Foxman and Nomi. This is an album that from the opening notes grabs you and doesn’t let go. The music is energetic, lively and it’s all done with a great attention to detail.

The funk-infused “Hercules Theme” is a significant standpoint. Back-up singers provide the vocals as fluttering strings and jazzy horns provide memorable melodies. The music moves in and out of focus before it finally ends with a somewhat sloppy (it’s meant to sound loose) and terrific trumpet solo.

As a reviewer and close follower of music and all its forms, this is unmistakable disco music. It’s meant for the dance floor and some forward thinking DJs would be smart to play this in their clubs. Songs like the jumpy “Athene,” the laid-back “Iris” and the bass-driven “This is My Love” scream to be danced to. The music is catchy and the varied use of vocals makes for an intriguing listen. Unlike some other electronic albums that feature nine-minute tracks where the music makers simply jam out, this is a tight and concise record.

And besides the obvious LCD Soundsystem-influenced “This is My Love” another stand out is the first single, “Blind.” This is where multi-dimensional and gifted singer, Antony Hegarty truly shines. He’s featured on five different songs on here and on this fast-paced song, complete with its syncopated hi-hat and almost staccato trumpet is easily one of the best—if not the best—songs of the year. What really makes Hercules and Love Affair such a strong album and what really pushes it to that “remarkable” level are Hegarty’s fabulous vocals. Without a doubt, a very smart and successful idea.

This is a winner in so many different ways; the music is impeccable, the sequencing is seamless, the production inhales and exhales life and the overall sound is killer. It’s really hard to think or assume that there will be another electronic album as good as this one released the rest of the year — it’s highly unlikely.