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Album review: The Juan MacLean's 'Everybody Get Close'

October 24, 2011 |  5:02 pm

Album review: The Juan MacLean's 'Everybody Get Close'

LCD Soundsystem ended up as the more famous flagship act of the DFA label and its revolutionary, post-punked flip on club grooves; as the imprint’s second banana, however, the Juan MacLean has more than staked out its own vital turf. The collective nom d’électronique of musician John MacLean plus his collaborators (such as frequent vocalist Nancy Whang, also from the now-retired LCD Soundsystem) has proved remarkably consistent in the quality of its output, from its early 2000 vinyl 12-inch singles down to the its latest effort, “Everybody Get Close.”

An odds ’n’ sods affair consisting of a tour-only EP release, some extant singles and remixes, “Everybody Get Close” still maintains the cohesion of a studio album. Indeed, all the dimensions of the Juan MacLean get represented fully here, from distinctively warped ’80s synth retro à la Human League and Kraftwerk to maverick takes on house and minimal techno. “Find a Way” pairs Latin piano riffs with MacLean’s almost Lydon-esque sneer, evoking his pilgrimage from punk musician to dance-floor technician; conversely, the Holmes Price remix of “Human Disaster” turns MacLean’s dark, Ian Curtis-style moans into an Ibiza-smooth Bryan Ferry crooner.

Likewise, “Feels So Good” uses Whang’s deadpan vocals to transform dance-music clichés into plastic-fantastic pop art, but MacLean is often best at his most abstract. As such, the slow, dubby Berlin thump of “Deviant Device” and the manipulated old-school industrial sonics in “X2” feel startlingly current. Taken together, these disparate tracks achieve the ideal balance of indie grit, irresistible rhythm and artily self-conscious anachronism that’s now a trademark of MacLean’s music for dissident discos.

The Juan MacLean
“Everybody Get Close”
(DFA)
Three stars (out of four)

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— Matt Diehl

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