Moving Units

Dangerous Dreams

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Dangerous Dreams' mix of uptight rhythms, angular guitars, and shouty, faux-Brit vocals doesn't invoke nostalgia for late '70s and early '80s, when groups like A Certain Ratio and Liquid Liquid first got the bright idea to crossbreed punk and disco; it makes the listener yearn for the late '90s and early 2000s, when more inspired bands were borrowing from the style's pioneers. Moving Units haven't really moved forward since the release of their self-titled EP in late 2002, and the fact that it took them two years to follow that up with Dangerous Dreams only adds to the perception that they're also-rans. On the album's best moments, the band comes off as a dance-punk Menswear: though they're followers of fashion rather than innovators, they have a way of distilling everything fun and slightly ridiculous about the genre into edgy pop that's pretty catchy and doesn't aim for much more. "Between Us & Them," which also appeared on Moving Units, remains the band's best song, with a staccato guitar hook and a melodic, driving bassline that still sound relatively fresh. Meanwhile, "Submission" nods to fey '80s pop with its breathy crooning and sparkly guitars. Even though "Unpersuaded"'s jerky rhythms and awkward backing vocals are more than a little dorky, this dorkiness is still more fun, and more genuine, than the tiresome posing that litters too much of Dangerous Dreams. Likewise, the album's closing ballad, "Turn Away," sounds all the better because the band keeps it short, unlike "Scars," a dour, nearly six-minute-long track that just doesn't have the presence to fill up that kind of space. "Emancipation," "Available," and "Birds of Prey" may be tuneless and repetitive, but Moving Units' more dance-oriented tracks are worse: though "Anyone" is synth-driven and seems overtly "dancy," it meanders in search of a groove. A case of too little, too late, nothing on Moving Units' full-length debut Dangerous Dreams does anything to disprove the feeling that the dance-punk scene is at best overcrowded and at worst approaching rigor mortis any day now.

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