Following in the dark electronic footsteps of Depeche Mode and the Human League, Danse Macabre, as the title suggests, is a record made with the intention of getting you moving to songs of death and distress. There’s great drama in this album, with the band perfecting the art of building suspense and then letting everything go in a blitz of keyboards and synths.
“Agenda Suicide” and “Glass Danse” set the tone for the rest of the album. They’re catchy as anything, obviously written with the dancefloor very much in mind. But therein lies the problem that besets much of this album – once you get under the surface of many of these songs, you realise they’re all about the synth lines and the attack and release, with many of the songs following exactly the same path.
Those synth riffs are almost all great though, especially on “Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat”, but the album could do with a little bit more variety. The vocal range is quite limited, and it’s only in the final song that the band slip into a different gear, with “Ballad Of A Paralysed Citizen”. This would fit really well on Silent Shout by The Knife – an electronic album that came a few years later and really knows how to change the pace.
The addition of a cello and the the quality of some of the songs help to set this album apart, but it’s not quite the indie classic it’s often held up to be. The drama sometimes crosses over into dangerous melodrama, especially in the vocals, and it often sounds like everything is pushed into the red. The melodies are all in the synths and, while that means these songs are great for discos, the lack of variety in the rest of the music means that it makes for quite a tiring listen. One to listen to in bits.