The press email for Art D’Ecco starts with “Canadian, androgynous, neo-glam” and to be honest that would do as a review for In Standard Definition because if that three word summary doesn’t hook you in then this band that isn’t part of your tribe. But seeing as my hyperbole cannon is loaded up and ready to fire, I am jumping in.
In Standard Definition opens with the stomp of stack heels on ‘Desire’ and this is the banger on the album. Cut it in half and the word ‘anthem’ runs right through the middle of it. There are tracks like ‘Bird of Prey’ that have the rasp of saxophone with treble from acoustic guitar plus an enormous crescendo ending or ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ which drips with icy synth echoes. ‘I Am The Dancefloor’ pulsates with the brittle rasp of deep bass, disco hi-hat and synthesisers that would have Giorgio Moroder checking his lockup the make sure he hadn’t been burgled. On an on we go: the Springsteen power and Glitter Band beat of ‘Head Rush’ and ‘Good Looks’, 80s corporate anthems ‘Channel 7’ and ‘Channel 11’, the woozy pub-piano-goes-discotheque on title track ‘In Standard Definition’, the moody paranoia of ‘The Message’ and slow dance reflections on final track ‘I remember’.
This is 70s glam and 80s bravado neatly distilled into a big booming Friday night spent dancing around your bedroom getting ready to head out and leap onto the illuminated squares of the dancefloor. These are songs bathed in the sparkles of a hundred mirror balls and fractured by a thousand swirling lasers. There may be a whiff of Roxy, Bolan and Bowie here but in the same way Goldfrapp dipped their lovely toes in glam water, Art D’Ecco have packed in so much modern fun it harks forward as much as it harks back. I also love learning new words so huge thanks for introducing me to the adjective ‘maquillage’ (which relates to cosmetics, or its application, especially in theatrical or excessive use).
Art D’Ecco is a band with a Swarovski heart pumping sequins and Red Bull round their systems. It may be an album that looks at “the world of entertainment, our obsession with celebrity and the power it holds over us” but the mise-en-scène of In Standard Definition is supremely glorious and matched with equally glorious and life-affirming music. Anyway, I must go as I’m off to the make-up counter to get my maquillage sorted.
Review by Paul F Cook