With the passing of LCD Soundsystem as DFA Records’ greatest living band, it’s left up to Holy Ghost!, Planningtorock, The Juan MacClean and Shit Robot to carry the label’s flag forward into its future (the less said about Free Energy the better). All of these acts are intrinsically linked to the “DFA sound”: a consistent and persistent use of bass, repetitive and hypnotic grooves, New York disco, funk and nostalgic dance music.
Holy Ghost! aren’t ones to rush into things. Originally appearing as Automato on the label in 2003, the Brooklyn duo made up of Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser released their first single as Holy Ghost! ‘Hold On’ in 2007 and went on to release impressive remixes of Monarchy, Cut Copy, Phoenix along with the Static On The Wire EP in 2010.
It’s a testament to the duo’s incubation and successful plundering of the depths of ’80s dance that ‘Hold On’ appears on their debut album four years later and still manages to make a impression. It was the first pointer to Holy Ghost’s appeal. Simple yet elegant electronic disco arrangements, bass to make your body move, buzzing synths, catchy vocals that recall the best of the understated parts of ’80s pop and a slither of guitar to beef it all up.
It’s a trick that the duo repeat with enough variation throughout their debut album. First track ‘Do It Again’ is a highlight, a perfect modern disco anthem: a heady percussive and deep-down bass rhythm that demands body movement. ‘Wait And See’ matches classic AM radio vocals and well, all of the above. Eternal classic silver-haired soft rock singer Michael McDonald appears with a choir on the slinky disco closer ‘Some Children’.
Holy Ghost! have taken their time in their debut and like label mate Shit Robot have plied all the refineries of modern and classical DJ language they’ve learned and turned it into a revisionist dance album success.