, June 29th, 2011 07:56
It shames me to say that up until the promo of this album dropped into my mailbox, I had never heard of Melbourne trio My Disco. To be absolutely honest, my knowledge of Australian music is embarrassingly poor in general; besides an obvious awareness of the likes of Nick Cave, Crowded House and Kylie Minogue, I could've counted all the Aussie bands on my radar (indie godfathers the Triffids and Go-Betweens, contemporary desert-rockers the Drones, dance outfits Cut Copy and the Avalanches) on the fingers of one hand.
A quick glance at the press release for the group's third album Little Joy, however, suggested that this wasn't going to be a band I would've heard in the background of a Neighbours coffee shop scene, and with Gang Gang Dance, This Heat, Liars and the Boredoms all listed as major influences it sounded like a treat too great to pass up on.
Incredibly, My Disco pull off the rare trick of actually sounding like their publicist's description. A brief research session revealed some promising moments of wiry post-punk brilliance on the band's 2006 debut Cancer and its follow-up Paradise, but Little Joy is a staggering leap forward. Brothers Liam and Ben Andrews and drummer Rohan Rebiero balance industrial noise and tribal, percussive minimalism so perfectly that it blurs the lines between avant-rock and psychedelic trance to the point where the listener doesn't know whether they should be stroking their chins or throwing their hands in the air like they just don't care.
These guys certainly recognise the joy of repetition, unleashing wave after wave of percussive intensity on album highlights like 'Young', extended jams that build and build until the point of ecstatic release. Melbourne might be a long way from Detroit or Chicago, but Little Joy's place in the lineage of great dance music is unquestionable.
Whilst Rebiero's awesome drumming (which sounds like the work of a man with at least twice as many limbs) makes him the undisputed star of the show, the Andrews siblings play an equally important part in holding everything together. Ben's guitar roars on occasion – clanging, trebly chords and bursts of feedback deployed strategically like warning flares - but more often various abrasive riffs, scratchy funk licks and scraped strings are used like metronomes, helping to maintain a steady pulse while adding shade to the spaces between Liam's basslines.
Credit is also due to Steve Albini, who recorded the bare bones of these tracks, and Scott Horscroft, who brings precisely none of the poppy sheen he has previously added to the likes of Silverchair and the Presets. Instead, he focuses here on more subtle details; a little reverb on the drums and the soft droning hum of electrical feedback add an eerie ambience at odds – albeit pleasantly so – with the chaos erupting all around.
Although the sequencing leaves a little to be desired – the album's two slower tracks, the dubbed-out 'Lil' Joy' and 'With Age' are placed back to back about two thirds of the way through, creating a breather that goes on that little bit too long – it's a minor complaint, and the band manage to regain the momentum with the throbbing, ten-minute 'Rivers'. For an album that draws from such a leftfield pool of influences, Little Joy is far from inhospitable; in fact, despite more obvious similarities to out-rock behemoths like Liars and Sunn O))), My Disco share as much common ground with LCD Soundsystem and their percussive party music. That the band can conjure up such a noise from such a limited sonic palette is achievement enough; that such a noise can open up a world of emotions and possibilities is simply astonishing.