“Heart first.” These two words may describe the way hopeless romantics plunge into new situations. They may describe an ethos for oneself, protecting the heart above all others. For Dance Movie, who are releasing their first new album in five years, it describes their music.
On Interlopers and when I saw them live years ago, I was struck by the emotional honesty of the music. Tara Thorne never holds anything back, a lyricist far more honest than even the most honest songwriters I’ve heard. And while Pierce does move into a more pop-rock-centric sound than its predecessor, that same raw honesty hasn’t budged one bit.
“I never meant to make your heart my favourite thing” are the first words spoken in the album, on “Nosebleed,” a barn-burning rock and roller that is also an opening statement: the feelings will be raw, and the music will be loud (mostly). That opening lyric is representative of the kinds of feelings Thorne is able to put to words. Feel the venom in these lyrics from the crescendo-ing “An Inelegant Fade”: “You think that you’re a secret but really you’re a window with the shades up, you fuck-up, I know.”
When you’re not being blown back by standouts like “Friday Night Mights” — infectiously catchy thanks to a combination of high energy, gang vocals and hand claps — the quiet moments are worth mentioning too. Towards the end of the album, “North Star” sticks out not just for the softer atmosphere, but the production. Thorne’s voice echoes, as though she’s a ghost rattling off one more monologue about a lost love. And let’s not forget “Give Up the Grace,” a song with which anyone whose former flame is now with another person can identify. Single piano notes and sporadic washes of synth make it sound like it will be calm throughout, but eventually the quiet facade breaks into a torrent of rage, and Thorne transforms from pining to raging.
Sweetness abounds in some of the lyrics, like in “Penny,” another high-energy pop song that implores a lover to “Jump into these arms, baby come home, so I don’t have to dance without you.” The lyrics of “Henry” features images of dancing in the pouring rain and lyrics like “We were made of light.” The romanticism is contagious.
The ultimate journey of the heart is never a straight or easy path, and by “Too Legit to Commit,” there are major questions to ask about going into a new relationship. Can you take it? What happens if this one gets fucked up too? The confusion is put to music, and the song gets louder and louder until it hits peak volume.
All these years later, more than most other bands, Dance Movie speak to the hearts with which we never thought we’d ever be in tune.
Top Tracks: “Friday Night Mights”; “Thaw”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*