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Gang Gang Dance is a lot: A lot to hear; alot to process; a lot for poor music critics to digest and spit out in a presentable fashion. Thankfully, the band is also one of the more distinctively creative outfits currently working—a fact that draws said dorks in, even if they have to comb their ways through layers of divergent influences. Eye Contact, the latest from the New York quintet, is an elegant mesh of ideas that finds the band merging Eastern pop music, underground electronics, and not-too-savage polyrhythmic percussion. And, as is its wont, Gang Gang Dance makes a true composition out of the thing by including no breaks between songs—to do otherwise would be too easy. Instead, there are three interludes that effectively serve as the record’s binding agent.
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The album is bookended by stellar work. Opener “Glass Jar” begins with a prelude of sweeping keyboards, which fade as the band introduces live drum accents that, after an appropriate amount of teasing, build to a driving pulse. Then comes a simple synth melody, and the familiar vocals of Lizzi Bougatsos. The singer, who works in an etherial place somewhere between Donna Summer and Björk, mirrors the soaring character of the synths and caps a near-perfect introduction with a stretched out hard-to-place vowel.
Eye Contact closes with “Thru and Thru,” a more controlled effort whose vocals could be ripped from Asian pop music, and which the band tickles with Goblin-esque horror-film arpeggios and a triumphant chord progression. The song never overwhelms, kept in check by thundering, never distracting polyrhythms. In between, Gang Gang Dance explores Bollywood on “Adult Goth” and takes a questionable, cheesy Caribbean-keyboard detour for a section of “Chinese High.” Reggeaton fuels “MindKilla,” until the band’s members drop the beat to half-time—enough to bring out the DāM-FunK in the keys, and for the band to show off its Dre chops.
Dirty Projectors wish they were so skilled. Where that band often strains to work its many interests into barely cohesive songs, Gang Gang Dance mixes and matches with relative-sounding ease. Yeah, it’s a lot. But it’s never too much. In fact, it’s just about spot-on.