[sic] Magazine

Desire – II

Portland’s Johnny Jewel and the Italians Do It Better label have become a must-pay-attention-to phenomenon of late. As unlikely as a credible West Coast 80s Italo-disco revival was, the feat has been managed with seeming ease over the last two years.

Glass Candy fronted the movement that no longer appears to be called ‘glacial disco’. Their squelchy synths, upbeat tempos and frosty vocal found a very welcome home on the Beat Box (or B/E/A/T/B/O/X if you prefer) album. Chromatics followed suit with a more relaxed offering of pitch-perfect and disinterested minimalism on Night Drive. The scene was captured on the After Dark compilation, comprising examples of these two’s work with that of Farah and Professor Genius, and earlier this year the label sneaked out the widely regarded Nite Jewel album Good Evening as well as currently working on Solange and Premier Rang releases.

Desire’s II does not stray far from a winning formula. Pooling Jewel’s production with Nattie from Chromatics sequencing skills, the pair join forces with Montreal’s Megan Louise on vocals for an album which very much splits the difference between Glass Candy and Chromatics, both bands in which Jewel has more than a hand. Its chilly mid-to-low tempos are propped up with the label’s trademark clapping disco.

Opening with Canadianised American-French: ‘Bonsoir, nous sommes Desire … nous avons quelques chansons pour vous’ and canned applause, Desire sidle rather than launch into ‘Montre Moi Ton Visage’, itself little more than a breathy introduction to ‘Mirroir Mirroir’. Here the tempo reaches palpable levels and Louise’s vocal blossoms into an equally echo-y and warming exercise in disinterest. The Euro-theme is maintained on ‘Dans Mes Rêves’, a track which would love to soundtrack the very woozy and romantic late Night Drive that Chromatics started.

II gets down to business on ‘Don’t Call’ housing a thrillingly purposeful head-boppin’ beat to recall Glass Candy’s signature ‘Beatific’, but with added glitches. Only ‘Under Your Spell’ deviates from the expected, thinking to include a slight homage to The Shangri-Las with its tongue-in-cheek female-chorus repartee. The album closes in cyclicity, layering applause onto arpeggiating and atmospheric keyboard amid claims to have ‘… passé un merveilleux moment’. II is effortless, beautiful and loveable, and as is now becoming embarrassingly frequent, it offers further proof that yes, Italians Do It Better.

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