The Shocking Pinks - Dance The Dance Electric

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New Zealand-based indie rockers can't decide whether they want to ride the dancepunk wave or explore wistful dream-pop. Fortunately, they're great at both.

As far as politicking goes, New Zealand-based The Shocking Pinks have got their act together. Rather than waging an ill-fated battle to entice the ever-jaded indie masses with quixotic idiosyncrasy, they've studied the musical zeitgeist, and at first glance, appear to roll with it. Dance the Dance Electric, the group's debut full-length, would blend inconspicuously into the emergent dancepunk section of any hipper-than-thou record store-- that is, until an unsuspecting store clerk actually bothered to spin the disc, whereupon it would be revealed as a sophisticated collection of casual genre-hoppers and tender love songs that far outshines most of the bilge spawned from James Murphy's Chernobyl-like fallout.

Dance the Dance Electric is simultaneously one of the most tragically hip and irreverently unaffiliated records of the year, cavorting from unabashed disco revivalism to scuzzed-out new-wave to reggae-tinged psychedelia in a mottled kaleidoscope of brazen idealism. While aesthetically, all indications are of something closely related to the nascent discopunk phenomenon, The Shocking Pinks are only tangentially interested in getting down. In fact, the complexity of their ambitions rivals vastly more established groups, and the youthful intensity with which they attack each objective is a constant boon.

At first, the album abides its come-ons: "Lovehate" is instrumental discopunk at its purest, enduring for six minutes on a redundant bassline, slap-happy bongo playing and an erratically soloing guitar. While certainly not a vast departure from the cliches being propagated by present-day death-disco revivalists, the song is endearingly sloppy in contrast with the razor-sharp instrumentalism of bands like !!! and Out Hud. That it's one of Dance the Dance Electric's weaker tracks is a testament to the potency and stylistic diversity of the band's songcraft.

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