Friday, 20 January 2012

Androids behind a velvet rope: The Phenomenal Handclap Band, Form And Control

First published in Loud And Quiet

The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Form & Control
Tummy Touch
Out 30th January 2012

The Phenomenal Handclap Band have dialled down the funk and turned up the proggy art-rock for a follow-up album which splices those ‘70s genres with a wearying dose of adult contemporary, castrating its dancefloor potential in the process.

The New York collective once toured with Bryan Ferry, which says it all, really. Ostentatious velvet-rope slickness suggests Roxy Music at their glossiest, yet at heart it’s all deeply repressed, even conservative. Oddly blank vocal efforts are duplicated in a creepy android choir (echoes of Ladytron, continuing the riff on Roxy) that’s totally sexless (and not in the good Ladytron way).

There’s no doubt that TPHB is the project of two DJ minds tuned to the other side of the mixer – this is all about structure and sheen, knob-twiddling and record-referencing. Beautifully constructed but with little of the joie de vivre that fires up its retro source material.

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