It is alluring, easy and permanently fashionable to obsess over and romanticize recently passed generations (check out the new Woody Allen flick, Midnight in Paris, for an at-length meditation on this subject). All reasons to dismiss musicians who spend their talents rummaging around arms-deep in the collective cultural closet (the 80s has emerged more or less unchallenged as today’s choice era) in favor of those who stand nobly on the contemporary vanguard – so those on the “true” cutting edge tell us.
While my intellect agrees with this stance, my heart (or, I should say, my whole body from the neck down) revolts. It is from down there that I give with gusto a nod to the newest Depeche Mode and early Madonna-inspired rising star, Class Actress, in particular this track of syrupy synth and emotions up in the John Hughes register, “Keep You.”
Frontwoman Elizabeth Harper’s vocals take center stage, swinging generously into falsetto as their primary expressive device. A wholly electronic arrangement cradles them supportively and submissively (nothing fancy or remotely upstaging here).
While purely electronic arrangements risk chilliness, this one is sweetly composed, and in any case fitting for a song that is rather lukewarm as a whole, marked by a reserved intensity that Harper’s new wave influences also wielded well.
Class Actress’ forthcoming full-length, Rapprocher, has the intolerably distant release date of October 18. However, you can catch them (as I will) along with the chillwave outfit Washed Out at the Great American Music Hall on July 9.
Listen to “Keep You” here on The Hype Machine.