Le Galaxie’s first album Laser Disc Nights 2 was totally immersed in retro futurism down to the VHS-aping video, references to Miami (think Vice) and song titles like ‘This Is Reality, Diane’ (no one born past 1989 has been named Diane, fact). It was great fun, if light on big tunes, something quickly fixed with the Fade 2 Forever EP the next year in 2012 where the band kicked it up a gear and the highlights reel began.
Le Club pushes the nods and winks to a Tron age to the background while focusing on gigantic song-led bangers built on dance music dynamism with live instruments.
The music is still aesthetically ’80s-referencing neon-electro, but with more peaks and troughs (aided by clear cut physically-felt mixing by sometime DFA/LCD engineer Eric Brouchek). That’s what happens when you spend a few years getting direct feedback on your new songs live.
‘Put The Chain On’, the album’s opening song has a festival-ready breakdown after just three minutes but you’ll know that already unless you’re one of the 14 people in Ireland who hasn’t seen them live yet.
Other tracks will already feel familiar, the crowd-rousing ‘Streetheart’, (itself with a booming breakdown and take-off) , the singles ‘Le Club’ and ‘Lucy Is Here’ (which work well in the context of the album).
The big difference for Le Club is the increasing sense of occasion and the vocals. Michael Pope is has grown into his frontman role live and he’s much more out in front than before here. Sometimes, it sounds too forced (‘Who Us’ , ‘Cnnxn’) but most of the time Pope gives a fine varied performance that narrows the focus on big tracks like ‘Humanise‘.
When it’s not Pope on the mic, it’s probably the more than capable soulful voice of Senita Appiakorang (Shookrah, Daithí) who amps up the house music vibes with her big delivery on the Underworld-style synth workout ‘Tell Me Twice’ and cinematic throwback’ AM LA’ which segues into the Moroder gallop of ‘PM LA’.
With the album sequenced with a flow, you’d be forgiven for thinking the tenth track, the new version of Elaine Mai-fronted anthem ‘Love System‘ would be the natural end particularly as it features a new sax outro, that makes the song even more of a modern Irish classic.
The last few songs let the retro references back in. ‘Who Us’ gives us Kraftwerk-esque vistas and “VHS digital kiss” ( best not to read any great meaning into some of the lyrics – they serve a greater purpose) while the square wave ‘Chauffeur Love’ namedrops the quintessential vintage ’80s watch, the Casio, more then once. Fight Like Apes’ Maykay delivers her best vocal of her recording career on ‘Carmen’.
Even when the music does overtly sound like an alternative soundtrack to Back To The Future, French electro or the night-time street theatre of Drive, it is always fun, transportive and designed to make you move. And, this time around there’s an increasing sense of occasion.
Le Club is a rare thing, an album of joyous bangers that works in any environment, le club, the festival and your headphones.