Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Thousand Eight - 10. Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna

God's Money was a good record, which I liked, and, unfortunately, never really internalized. It's something of an experimental record, whatever that means: in this case it means that the songs are indistinct - the sense that they serve to create an album, more than they seek to be songs in and of themselves. It is a music album, not a group of songs, and needs to be appreciated in 40 minute bursts. Serious listeners have a chance at really getting this record, and everyone else maybe only catches glimpses of what it's about. I pretty much never listened to it seriously enough, but I could tell that there was some subtle stuff waiting in there for me when I had time for it.

Well, three years later, I still never made time and Gang Gang Dance came out with the perfect follow up record. This one has all the great stuff that made God's Money great and other stuff that makes Saint Dymphna even better. The main thing, though, is that this time around the band manages to create memorable songs within the context of a cohesive album. The off kilter loops, Brooklyn via Africa percussion (not the other way around), and magically not cliched atmospherics from the last album are still there but now there are hooks too.

If I ever pretend that I like listening to experimental music that doesn't have any hooks outside of a live context, you have the right to tell me I'm full of shit. Let's be honest - God's Money didn't have hooks enough to bring me back to it, even though I enjoyed it and knew it was a great record. I couldn't be more thankful that Gang Gang Dance wrote "House Jam" and "First Communion" because now I can like them unreservedly. They're now a band I can enjoy concretely, not in some assumed world of musical validity populated by vision without intent, innovation without soul. I guess this is how some people felt when Animal Collective released Sung Tongs. A band that showed perhaps an excess of enthusiasm and too little conception of their own strengths on their first record, made the sort of record they were meant to make on the second try.


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