Various Artists

Misery Loves Company (An Ersatz Audio Release)

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Wanting nothing to do with the pastel and diamond glitz of an '80s revival, Detroit's Ersatz Audio goes straight to the jugular with Misery Loves Company, a compilation of '80s-inducing electro, punk, and new wave that comes on like cocaine paranoia and offers no quarter for those foolishly seeking out blissful disco fever. "Paranoid Vision, looking through dirty glass/On your way, straight to lower class," sings Adult.'s Nicola Kuperus on the label-owner's contribution, "Paranoid Vision." The highly charged lyrical content is a unique theme for an essentially electronic album, with all but two tracks containing words. Both instrumentals, Lowfish's "Dead Horse" and Goudron's "Basmatine," take a proto-industrial turn, referencing the hyper-machinated beats of Front Line Assembly and Nitzer Ebb, while Vienna's G.D. Luxxe and England's DMX Krew are only a notch more cheery, amping up Gary Numan's ghost with modern electronic appeal. Only San Francisco's Gold Chains refuses to admit any historical footnote with his gritty stutter-beat rap "I Could Care Less." Choosing the darker side of the coin is what has made Ersatz Audio one of the more perversely desirable pushers of contemporary '80s retro. Though this comp could have used one or two relaxing moments to break from the incessant panic attacks (the closest comes in the melody of Tommy Sunshine's "Runway, Runaway"), it is still impossible to fault the flawless taste and musical precision they use on all of their releases. However, this also seems very much like a closing chapter which begs to wonder what Ersatz will do next.

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