Hues Corporation: Hercules and Love Affair add new color to ?70s dance music.

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Hercules and Love Affair’s Andrew Butler is entirely serious about disco. His band’s self-titled debut is a loving homage to the dance music of the late ’70s that doesn’t require a pair of platform shoes or an ironic leisure suit—really, you just need an appreciation of New York garage and Chicago house. The requisite orchestral flourishes, garish Italo-synth gurgles, and spring-loaded octave bass lines are all lovingly presented on the album, making for disco music that strives for sensuality over silliness. A native of Denver, Butler uprooted to New York City a few years back to study music at Sarah Lawrence College and wound up DJing at gay disco nights after developing an affinity for those once-unpopular sounds. He’s the primary creative force behind Hercules and Love Affair, but the actual vocal duties are largely delegated to friends, most prominently Antony Hegarty, the voice of Antony and the Johnsons, who sings on five of the album’s 10 tracks. It’s on the album’s throbbing centerpiece, “Blind,” that Hegarty most effectively meshes with Butler’s freaky game plan; if ever there was someone who could impart both soul and subtle amounts of paranoia to a song rife with digital bongos, Hegarty is the man. “I wish the stars could shine now/For they are close/They are near,” he sings, his bizarrely bluesy voice drifting vaporlike over a bed of pulsing synths and a four-on-the-floor rhythm. The song also does Hegarty the service of releasing the singer from the prison of his own tragic Berlin-style ballads and proving that he can thrive in a less gloomy—albeit still slightly goth-y—environment. Hegarty is not alone in imbuing Butler’s compositions with a Smithsian sense of longing. Vocalists Kim Ann Fox and Nomi are also human and need to be loved—just like everybody else does. “Today is a day for someone else,” sings Kim Ann Fox on “Iris”, expertly delivering Morrissey-worthy club-mopes over a stark keyboard hook that temporarily walks away from Butler’s beloved 1978 and looks forward to, well, 1986 and Nu Shooz. But the majority of disco songs were never quite so serious as Butler’s compositions. In fact, in much of Butler’s source material—songs like “Let’s Go Dancing”, “Is It All Over My Face”, and “Work that Body”—the lyrics were mostly concerned with less introspective subjects such as dancing, getting something all over one’s face, and working one’s body. But this deeper emotional range is Butler’s unique contribution to the genre. On Hercules and Love Affair it works, presenting body music with a full emotional body. It’s blues and booty.