Chicago's Chrissy & Hawley take inspiration from '80s dance genres such as freestyle and Hi-NRG on their self-titled debut full-length. Like Swedish duo Sally Shapiro before them, the two artists come from different musical backgrounds, but they bonded over retro sounds and began making catchy dance-pop tunes with bright melodies and sentimental lyrics. The eight songs on this album generally feature lyrics about loneliness and yearning to fall in love again, but there's also a strong sense of self-empowerment to songs like the sharp, Yazoo-esque "A Life to Lead." First single "Photobooth" is unabashedly playful, with camera snaps and orchestra stabs surrounding the freestyle beats and Polaroid-memorable hook "take a picture, it'll last longer." Other tracks are a bit more reminiscent of the sassy, show tune-like side of '70s disco, particularly the bongo-driven "Love Again" ("I want to fall in love again... I almost don't care who it is") and "My Top Twenty," in which Hawley finds consolation in her record collection in order to cope with isolation. "Personal Touch" replicates the bouncy Hi-NRG rhythms of producers like Bobby Orlando and Patrick Cowley, while "Weekend" and "The Woods" slow things down a bit to a swaying midtempo. Both tracks come a bit closer to sounding like Italo-disco, especially with the synth arpeggios of "The Woods," and they also have a fair amount of dubby vocal effects, making them seem more like extended 12" disco mixes than the other songs on the album. While it seems like this album could've turned out to be really tongue-in-cheek or ironic, it's clear that the duo have a sincere appreciation for the sounds they're emulating (Chrissy has been known to DJ or produce nearly every subgenre of dance music imaginable), and the songs are fun as well as affecting.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson