Three years after their last release, Groove Armada return with a vengeance on "Black Light". The duo of Tom Findlay and Andy Cato have produced an unabashed love letter to 80's synth-based dance music, while mixing in some of the rock elements they have explored in the past. I'm hearing influences from the likes of Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Yaz and New Order all over this album.
Even though they both share the same tracks, for some reason the U.S. version of "Black Light" has a completely different track order from the version released in England. Still haven't made up my mind if one running order makes more sense than the other, but the U.S. version works fine for me. They come right out of the gate with the buzz saw of "Warsaw", the first of four tracks featuring Nick Littlemore (of Pnau and Empire Of the Sun) on vocals. Littlemore saves his best for "Cards To Your Heart", with a near rap during the sparse verses, before the song swells into a blissed out, euphoric chorus.
Will Young is featured on the album's best track, the disco flavored "History". The effects on Young's vocals, especially during the chorus, turn him into a reverbed disco diva. It's a stunningly killer dance song. Check out this live performance from the Jonathan Ross Show on BBC1 for evidence.
Jess Larrabee from Brooklyn based rock duo She Keeps Bees is featured on another highlight of the album, the guitar heavy "Look Me In The Eye Sister", a convincing mix of rock and dance styles. New vocalist SaintSaviour is featured on three tracks, with the soulful performance on "Time & Space" standing out the most.
Surprisingly, one of the duller tracks on the album is the collaboration with the legendary Bryan Ferry, "Shameless". The pulsing track is one of the more subdued songs on the album and it never really goes anywhere. This still can't take away from one of the better dance albums I've heard this year. If you want a darker take on classic 80's dance music, "Black Light" is the album for you.
"Black Light" was released in the U.S. March 2, 2010 on OM Records.