(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CD review - We Have Band, WHB (2010)

British trio We Have Band are like Janus. They look back to the keyboard focused new wave pop from the '80s and early '90s, but still look forward to more modern dance rock. Their debut release, WHB fuses this into a fine electro pop, worthy of obsessive repeat listens. I can hear a lot of Tears For Fears, a little New Order, and some Depeche Mode.

The unexpected treat of the CD is Buffet, a raga groove with a constant sense of unfolding. It's deliberate, hypnotic, and trippy, but not in an acid rock way. The mesh between the electro rock flow and the reverberating drone of electric guitar is perfect.

The dreamy repeat at the end of Buffet gets elbowed aside by the funky techno drive of Divisive, We Have Band's single. The tight, relentless beat drops out for a sparser verse start to open up a Duran Duran dance pop sound. The fluttering guitars hiding in the background provide the continuity from the previous song. None of the little scraps of influence (Duran Duran, Tom Tom Club, et al.) stick around long enough to lull the ear into passivity: We Have Band keeps their listeners fully engaged.

There are other great tracks, like the arty OH! or disco influenced Hear It In The Cans, but the closer, Hero Knows, is probably the most satisfying. It starts off with a Tears For Fears feel (quite a bit like Shout), but this gets buried under a loose sediment of fill sounds and rhythms. Eventually the song walks through a number of sections, picking up different moods. The arrangement occasionally overlays the pieces to create a deeper structure.

It might be a bit heavy, but We Have Band has a dark streak that sounds like a great match for Bell's Expedition Stout: black, sweet, and rich.

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