To be fair to Le Galaxie, they’ve been doing this since before it was considered cool. The retroactive re-consumption of synth-pop has been doing a bit of a number on recent chart hits and movie soundtracks, but fans will know they’ve been sound-tracking our neon-tinged nights out for some time now. It’s a Chicken-Or-The-Egg situation, new fans will find reflections within the current spate of ’80s throwbacks, while some of the previously unheard tracks on Le Club do in fact sound as if they’ve been aligned to fit snuggly within the current modern retro sound.
Bad stuff out of the way first: lead single ‘Le Club’ was a bizarre choice as a call-to-arms for this, their first major label album. The lightness of touch in most of Le Galaxie’s other tracks is missing here, coming off a little too try-hard to be Le Cool. Then there’s opening track ‘Put The Chain On’, a great melody almost ruined by frontman Michael Pope’s bizarrely earnest vocal delivery of near-nonsense lyrics (something which isn’t really a problem elsewhere on the album), and we wind up with a song that might’ve been performed by the Soronprfbs.
Thankfully, almost everything else here is the perfect mix of considered humour and light-hearted seriousness that Le Galaxie balance out so well. Fans of the endlessly gigging group will already be aware of the relentlessly funky ‘Humanise’, the chanting euphoria of ‘Streetlife’, or ‘Love System’ which really sounds like it belonged on the soundtrack to Drive and potentially been the best song on there. The perfect dichotomy of the album, between fun and serious, between light and dark, between looking backwards and reaching forwards, is what ensures we never near boredom when listening. It’s there in the barely two minute run-time of the menacing, guitar-tinged ‘Lucy Is Here’, and it’s there in there nearly seven minute, ever-evolving, sun-licked instrumental closing track ‘Freeway Flyer’. More explicitly, back-to-back tracks ‘AM LA’ and ‘PM LA’ show two sides to the same coin; the former built on a beat that will bring to mind the Whitney Houston singing over the theme tune to Beverly Hills Cop to create instant nostalgia; the latter owes a debt to Giorgio Moroder, the ever building BPM and repeated lyrics of “The city’s got my back / So we can love each other” making it almost custom built for substance assisted secret rave love-ins.
Elsewhere, ‘CNNXN’ fell off the back of the ‘Hotline Miami’ OST, and unlike ‘Put The Chain On’, Pope’s vocals are harnessing the oddness of Neil Tennant and Brandon Flowers to equal, fantastic effect. ‘Tell Me Twice’ uses a slightly more modern beat and gorgeous female vocal that will draw comparisons to the likes of Rudimental, Disclosure or Clean Bandit, but Le Galaxie keep their time-stamp on, making sure it’s still very much their own thing. Album highlight ‘Chaffeur Of Love’ has Pope trading sexily delivered non-sequiturs with a breathless female vocal (“Too hot! Love kills! Casio! No-no!”) over an aggressive synth and Caribbean metal drums, while ‘Carmen’ takes its time coming and going – almost a minute of waves sleepily washing ashore on either end – with an ode to holiday sex and romance sandwiched between.
Although when it comes Le Galaxie, who can really tell what most of these songs are actually about; taking such joy in making as little sense as possible, making your brain jump through hoops for potential definitions while lighting up your memory banks with sounds from over thirty years ago. The only thing you can be certain of is that they’ve harnessed and mostly refined their sound, and Le Club sounds like nothing if not the soundtrack to a long, hot, sweaty summer night.