The Dance Party – Friction
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: Summer 2007
Coming out of the oven like its got nothing to lose and friction in its shoes, The Dance Party throws up an autograph that doesn’t take much dissection to get. The synth, the snappy drum beats, and the song titles like “Lipstick,” “Ultra Radical,” and “Sex Disco” provide an ABC synopsis for their self-released full-length Friction This record was built to make you dance. Duh.
So while it’s obvious that this album is reminiscent of club-room grinding and bringing back leg warmers, there is an element to The Dance Party that is a sunny California retro-pop like The Militia Group newbie Everybody Else. This works and wins as such: new-trend American dance rock or synth-pop like Jonezetta and Action Action are trying way to hard to retro namedrop. The Dance Party’s pop affiliation invites electronic bits and lyrics like “Oh I could catch a cobra by its teeth, I bet you didn’t know that about me” (“Nintendo Power”) into the foyer with no hesitation and clean towels. Simple but powerful guitar solos and riffs spotlessly work into the synth and laissez-faire percussion. It’s upbeat but not uptight, and that’s something nearly impossible for The Dance Party’s colleagues. It’s retro but not specifically John Hughes.
I was judgmental, I was. Any band with a name as straight-forward as The Dance Party shouldn’t be surprised when listeners go in with a pre-set first impression. Alas, surprises on Friction come in packets of artistic integrity and a sterling approach to a campy sound. Friction isn’t an overproduced effort, and it may even be underproduced. Frontman Mick Coogan’s vocals capture a live essence. Intentional or just a lack of studio funding, the execution of Friction doesn’t use the crutch of high-end shoe shine to boost the rock. On “Ultra Radical,” one of the most driving songs on the album, the bass is especially robust and prominent. These textures give Friction an extra umph of genuine retro attitude.
Washington D.C. isn’t a foreseeable setting for a band that sings about the wasteland of disco (“Lipstick”), but I am going to disagree for the sake of The Dance Party. Coogan’s delivery can be snarly, animated and endearing in one uppercut, most similar to Tom Bailey of Maxeen. His lines are glammed up for the dancing queens but gritty enough for DC’s long line-up of seasoned punks and post-punks. All the choruses on Friction hit their mark; while there are songs I enjoy more than others (“Renegade” and “Ultra Radical”) and a couple I could do without (“Sing Your Song” and “New Wave Drugz”), The Dance Party exudes a keen sense of pop sensibility, which is really the cornerstone of shipshape dance rock. The Dance Party is a true, unpretentious dance party. Maybe every band should be as unsubtle with their band name?