Museum of Love

Museum of Love

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Museum of Love Review

by Heather Phares

Museum of Love's self-titled debut album finds two of DFA's MVPs combining their powers on a set of songs that defines the label's style, albeit in ways that aren't always obvious. Between the two of them, former LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney and the Juan MacLean's Dennis McNany have decades' worth of experience invested in this aesthetic, so it makes sense that their own music reflects it, if only by sheer osmosis. Not surprisingly, several of Museum of Love's songs recall Mahoney's former band. Even the duo's name plays with the concepts of distance, artifacts, emotion -- all things that LCD Soundsystem explored brilliantly, and things that this album shows that McNany and Mahoney have a knack for examining too. "In Infancy," with its massive sweep and contrast between precise electronics and all-too-human emotion, is one of the most LCD-esque moments; the way its insistent fuzz bass cuts through the track's sweetness and builds toward its climax borrows from that band's playbook impressively. Later, "Monotronic" is similarly stylish and emotive, with Mahoney -- who handles the duo's vocal duties -- delivering wry, deadpan confessions like "I wasn't made for this much happiness" that evoke his former project. These two songs were issued as singles before the album's release; a third, "Down South," is Museum of Love's best expression of their own unique sound. Slinky, mysterious, and strangely sexy, the track cross-breeds disco and house into a hypnotic backdrop for Mahoney's voice, an alien baritone croon that recalls David Byrne in its cryptic detachment when he sings "hide out from the thoughts that rattle in your head." Though these singles are still the album's brightest highlights, McNany and Mahoney flesh out the rest of Museum of Love in interesting ways. "The Who's Who of Who Cares" is another standout that follows "Down South"'s arty, aloof lead, adding equally sardonic and stylish blasts of brass as it unfolds; "Learned Helplessness in Rats (Disco Drummer)" begins with crashing waves, steel drums, and choral synths that suggest what Oneohtrix Point Never's R Plus Seven might sound like if its shards of nostalgia were glued back together, then takes a sharp turn toward insistent electro. As expansive as most of these tracks are, their length is only noticeable on more meandering numbers like "Fathers" and "And All the Winners (Fuck You Buddy)." Even if Museum of Love sometimes comes across as a sampler of DFA sounds past and present, it's an album that those who enjoy the label's output will almost certainly like, and a promising debut in its own right.

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