It is a certain rockist (and at times homophobic) hangup that means that a lot of people still equate ‘disco’ with ‘sucks’. Over the last few years there has been some revisionism going on. Morgan Geist’s Environ label along with several others have been reissuing a whole swag of long lost Italo-disco classics from the early 80s, and the revisiting of the early 80s by DFA and virtually every other ‘hip’ dance label of the moment, has meant that disco-by-any-other-name is big.
Kelley Polar did some work with Geist’s Metro Area project and the lavishly titled Love Songs Of The Hanging Gardens features production work from Geist. I can’t shake how much this album sounds like the Junior Boys’ Last Exit (Electrokin) from last year, right down to Polar’s vocal stylings and the rubbery bass and synths. I thought the Junior Boys debut was great, the two singles Birthday, High Come Down in particular, and Polar’s album reveals how much of an Italo-disco influence there was beneath the surface sheen of Timbaland-esque syncopation and hi-hat triplets that most reviewers’ ears picked up on. On Polar’s Love Songs, though, the underlying disco pulse makes the warm, romantic songs sound quite linear, cosy and familiar- such warm production gives the space to get away with some of the rather audacious pop lyrics, hand claps and finger snaps.