Friday, July 01, 2005

house of dolls - house of dolls ep [review]


A husband and wife duo from England that play dancepunk! – how hot is that? The premise for House of Dolls is definitely appealing, and luckily, their music can dodge many of the pretensions associated with the hipper-than-thou genre.

This is one very dark CD-R, despite the case’s bright yellow diagonal stripes. Pulsating warm jets of synthesizers clash with angular guitar stabs on the opening track “Beach Flowers” to allude to more electronic moments of The Rapture. Other areas on the EP (namely “Acrobats”) recall Joy Division and early New Order, whose first two albums are probably the most useful comparison to make in terms of the emotions explored, and the dark synths used. There is no strained optimism here, though – just pure style, which mainly comes about through simplicity. The EP’s effortlessness is its virtue. Even if the singers muffled drawl itself sounds pretentious and overly fashionable, it comes across purely as irony. Maybe it’s just my transference of the idea of the presence of some biting wit. Maybe it’s the repetition - something that I associate with the tedium of post-punk. Either way, monotony has worked well for countless genres in the past, and here it’s again, very successful.

Mood takes precedence over intensity and sincerity. The EP carries an overall atmosphere of starkness and sparsity through threadbare instrumentation. Through this, it inhabits some cool scene in some cool, laidback and trendily seedy underground bar in some equally hip film. House of Dolls are pretty much totally void of dynamics. I think it’s terrific, really. Hip kids creating something that recalls what people like me (too young to know) would perceive as the British clubs that showcased Factory records early output. This is obviously a recurrent trend in indie music at the moment, but House of Dolls bring a uniquely electronic dance sound to the revival, that in the end, is almost a breath of fresh air.

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