LCD Soundsystem hung it up last week. If James Murphy’s disco-punk wonders taught us anything, it’s that just about any band—dance, rock or otherwise—lives or dies based on its ability to move us, both emotionally and physically.
Ready to pick up the baton is Holy Ghost!, LCD’s disciple, labelmate and recent opening act. Perhaps that’s why the New York duo took its sweet time releasing its fresh self-titled debut, waiting for the big fish to leave the pond. Featuring Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel—remnants of Automato, an outlying hip-hop act on Murphy’s DFA label—Holy Ghost! has gradually gravitated toward the dance floor, beginning with a few hot 12" singles, remixes and DJ sets before making its live debut and setting its sights on a full-length.
Those accustomed to DFA’s infatuation with and appropriation of 1980s New York City club culture, from the vacuous electro-funk to Arthur Russell’s skronky cult disco, will find nothing revelatory on the meticulously crafted Holy Ghost!. Like fellow formalist and current tourmate Cut Copy, the group is unafraid of embracing the cheesy earnestness of disco and new wave on pulsing, strutting tracks like “Wait and See” or “Static on the Wire,” which features a hot guitar solo from John “Juan” MacLean.
Holy Ghost! coasts a little too much on easy nostalgia and bland, wine-bar vocals. The best is saved for last. The climactic “Some Children” features no less than Doobie Brother Michael McDonald soulfully wheezing at his McDonaldest over popping bass and female choirs. The attention to period detail is impressive, seamlessly capturing the essence of a bygone era, even if it ultimately fails to capture our contemporary hearts.