Hanging Gardens

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The Los Angeles duo Classixx first surfaced with their "I'll Get You" single in 2009, a bouncing neo-disco jammer that featured vocals from Junior Senior's Jeppe and a chorus that tended to get lodged in one's brain for hours at a time. After that they did some remixes, but nothing much else until the release of the Hanging Gardens LP in spring of 2013. To say that the album fulfills the promise of that first single is dead right. The 12 tracks show that Michael David and Tyler Blake have a firm grasp on what it takes to make a great record. Mixing uptempo neo-disco tracks with moody, late-night ballads, and sunny tropical jams with a driving-through-rain-soaked-city-streets vibe; the album is like a crash course on electronic pop in 2013. The duo fully embrace the past (New Order basslines, swooping disco glamour, chunky Daft Punk synths) but sound completely modern, too. The textures are rich and layered with a wide variety of synth tones, the beats are suitably fresh sounding, and the lineup of guest vocalists adds just the right amount of soul and sweetness. Nancy Whang's pure tones on the sleekly funky "All You're Waiting For" show why so many bands want her to sing for them, Active Child adds some heartbroken slink to the album's saddest moment "Long Lost," and of course, Jeppe's trademarked shouted vocal style gives oldie "I'll Get You" a big boost of fun. Guests aside, what makes the record a success is the duo's light-fingered production style, their mastery of various styles of dance music, and above all, their way with a melody. So many dance music producers rely on the beats and some dynamics to put their music across, but Classixx stand apart from the pack by writing songs with melodies that stick with you. It's a solid debut for the duo that places them up near the top echelon of their neo-disco contemporaries.

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