Moving Units – [Album]

Friday, 14 September 2007

I remember when we persuaded an insider man to sneak me and couple of girlfriends into a college cafeteria-cum-coffee-shop venue back when I still believed higher education was the ultimate path to enlightenment. The show featured some scruffy Scotsmen, who were actually not scruffy at all but rather dashingly dressed, and had cleverly named themselves after that Archduke of Austria-Este whose assassination in Sarajevo allegedly began WWI. I remember feeling uncomfortable at the surprising site of the jam-packed cafeteria floor, simply not understanding the fellow students’ desire to swivel their probably-diseased-by-their-unhealthily-sexually-casual relationship-involved-pelvic bones, into the air. And literally the next day, Franz Ferdinand had polluted the musical tabloids entirely. I was so confused.

Despite my misunderstanding of their popularity, Franz Ferdinand’s rock brand of dangerously dance floor-friendly bass lines and booty-heavy beats became a rash facilitator of an absolutely flooding trend of dance rock. They became enablers of such musical disasters as that cafeteria-Mormon-fronted quartet from sin city who ended up killing audiences by boring them to death, and who additionally had a rather long-lived tabloid battle with the even further catastrophic, big-apple-based quintet that proved to be more of a poor disco derivative than anything remotely brave.

Whether or not the commercial success of Franz Ferdinand put me in the most suitably susceptible mental state to discover Moving Units, or if my impromptu stumble upon their victorious post-punk revivalry was inevitably enthused by my undying love of the pop-art graphic design sported on their debut album, Dangerous Dreams (2004), it is a mystery. A few years after their first album, a break-up scare, and a new bass player, Los Angeles’ (now a foursome) Moving Units return with Hexes for Exes, a cyclone of an album that will put a spell on your dancing shoes.

While Moving Units have taken a whole lotta crap from critics who claim that their party-flavoured musical direction fell victim to some bad timing, seemingly missing the boat to dance rock extravaganza 2004, I can’t help but think that while those killer-brave-Ferdinand-fistful of bands only hinted at something that Moving Units ultimately perfected. Hexes for Exes, in its sparkling and stylishly celebratory literacy, demonstrates Moving Units’ capacity for offering a simply delicious mix of rock ‘n’ roll thrust and dance-floor accessibility.

From the get-go, “Pink Thoughts” reveals Blake Miller’s complete commitment to portray the playfulness of club culture, but also this incredibly melancholic cast of abyssal loneliness. Miller’s nasally croon is a puzzle-piece fit into the instrumental jam that creates the amazing tightness that they’re most known for. The shoegaze-stratospheric guitars of “Paper Hearts” and “Dark Walls” come as a complete surprise as they curve the sharp edges of Moving Units’ accustomed musical model. While “The Kids From Orange County” features a fiercely chic, Johnny Marr-esque, dark and dreary guitar line, much of the album illustrates the frisky politics played out between beautiful strangers on fluorescently-lit dance floors, and the excitement of unspoken bonds between anonymous, sweaty bodies facelessly filling-up a dark hole-in the wall in Hollywood.

What comes as a surprise is the immense emotional range involved as Moving Units instantly transform from ecstatic physical attraction, to cathartic true love, to harshly sobering moments full of longing and heartache. The bare-bones rawness of “Hearts Departed” expresses the flip side of club culture, as if one sharing the lights and vibes of several strangers only creates feelings of incalculable loneliness and emptiness. It is Moving Units’ ability to musically express both externally, fiery sexuality and dramatic internal battles that make Hexes for Exes so satisfying to experience.

For more on Moving Units, check here:

Hexes for Exes is out October 9 on Metropolis


Crash 'n' Burn Victims – [mp3]

Dark Walls – [mp3]

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