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Hercules and Love Affair - In Amber Music Album Reviews

Hercules and Love Affair - In Amber Music Album Reviews
Stripping away the dancefloor euphoria of his most recognizable work, Andy Butler’s latest is a moody left-turn highlighted by some winning collaborations with ANOHNI.

Andy Butler’s fifth LP arrived with a telling press quote: “In all honesty, based on [the] initial soundscapes, I did not know this was going to be a Hercules and Love Affair album.” And from the onset of In Amber, it’s abundantly clear what he means. “Grace” starts off with punchy kick drums, twinkling piano loops, and deep bass notes, but it’s all taken a few steps away from the dancefloor Butler has long called home. Everything moves just below 120 BPM and the mix is light and spacious, leaving plenty of room for his unassuming baritone to tell his story of self-empowerment. Straddling the line between experimentation and reinvention, Butler strips away the project’s usual club music trappings to highlight weightier themes and darker personal expression.

For a producer and songwriter who’s spent nearly a decade and a half sculpting the golden eras of disco, house, and techno in his own image, Butler makes a bold change of direction across these 12 songs. Flourishes of post-punk, goth, industrial, and the edges of 1980s rock are scattered throughout the production, paired with uniquely varied vocal performances. Most notable is the return of ANOHNI, who—14 years after her performance in “Blind” helped define the sound of H&LA—brings an essential energy that ranges from despondent to furious. In “Christian Prayer,” ANOHNI denies ideas of an afterlife as she shouts through searing guitar feedback and rumbling drum fills, “When I die, do not appeal to your godhead.” Then in the simmering anthem of dismissal “Contempt for You,” she repeats like a rousing mantra, “Sure am glad I survived, but I’ve got nothing but contempt for you.” The rage isn’t hopeless: Somehow, the raw conviction makes her words feel uplifting and communal.

There are also spaces for reflection and calm, which are often where the album falters. Icelandic singer Elín Ey lends the downtempo “Dissociation” a gentle poise, though her placid delivery sounds anonymous compared to ANOHNI’s injured tremble on the stripped-down elegy “Who Will Save Us?” The funeral march of “You’ve Won This War” fixates on a two-chord progression around which the fluctuating arrangement orbits, as Butler oscillates between grim talk-singing and a sort of regal chant. But despite its cutting dynamics and diversity of sounds, the song’s six minutes of sullen Ren Faire theatrics seem to plod aimlessly. Butler uses a similarly linear structure with “The Eyes of the Father” and elevates his ideas with a string section, lyrical guitar leads, electronic noise, and stirring vocals. The music feels meditative, and its layered arrangement swells and contracts alongside the lyrics’ emotional uncertainty.

Butler has always sounded most confident when writing for the dancefloor, so it’s no surprise most of the standouts fall in that comfort zone. At its core, “Killing His Family” smartly blends distorted percussion with a bouncy house bassline, which Butler uses to shift between moody, deconstructed verses and poignant, earwormy choruses. The acerbic “Poisonous Storytelling” is a severe, drum-heavy pop ballad that’s equal parts industrial techno and angelic chamber music. For all the genre blending and production flair, there’s nothing kinetic or buoyant enough to stand alongside his best-loved floor-fillers, though “One” comes closest. The song embraces their foundational strengths, built around an insistent, detuned bass loop and ANOHNI’s most magnetic and rousing performance here. It’s the kind of emotionally charged, genre-invigorating classic that Hercules and Love Affair has become known for. On In Amber, Butler may have found a handful more peaks and his share of valleys, but few can emerge from the shadow of what came before.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Hercules and Love Affair - In Amber Music Album Reviews Hercules and Love Affair - In Amber Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, June 23, 2022 Rating: 5

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