Cheese Burghers — citizens of disco funksville, Family Force 5, deliver once again.
So, as promised, I named my first-born child Family Force Five Langley (I committed to doing so in my last, fairly enthusiastic review of this deep-south groove outfit). She is not old enough to thank me yet, but I think she will. I worried, before listening to this, FF5’s latest album, that the unusual moniker might lead to mocking and teasing at school (and she’s going to be home-schooled!), particularly if they had, in the last few years, started to suck — but I needn’t have worried. A phatter, phunkier collection of superb dance-tracks and party-anthems one could not hope for. Huge, sweaty, resonating synthesizers grind out keyboard basslines, perfectly complemented by speaker-destroyingly massive guitars and vocals shimmering with glitter-ball effects straight out of the platonic ideal of the school disco – all in the service of the Almighty Beat.
It’s not folk. It’s also not particularly deep. To be honest, most of the songs are about dancing. Even the ones that aren’t about dancing. Party Foul, a song with a guitar-riff like The Killers and vocals like Jamiroquai (or, for the older crowd, guitars like New Order and vocals like Earth Wind and Fire) is about party etiquette, but also about dancing. Wake the Dead is about legalism and traditionalism strangling youth in the Church, but it also mentions dancing. Fever is about dancing, as is Rip It Up and the frankly immense Get Your Back Off The Wall. Title track, Dance Or Die, despite what you might think, is not an exposition of Francis Schaeffer’s analysis of the death of absolute truth in western art and culture.
There are more serious moments, however. The song about youth and tradition, while actually containing the line “if it’s too loud, you must be too old”, actually makes a serious point. D-I-E 4 Y-O-U is a rousing rocker (with another Killers riff) megaphoning a willingness to face all kinds of persecution for the sake of Christ, singing: “Throw me in the fire, I walk right through.” But while FF5’s stance is bound to be encouraging to young people in your church with resilient eardrums, the album never feels preachy (except on the subject of dancing). And aside for one unspeakably awful (yet guiltily pleasurable) boy-band moment, dance is what you’ll want to do when this pumps through your speakers.
If you like your beats infectious, your guitars heavy, your vocals effects-laden and your musical references 80s retro, this album is for you. Dance!
here’s a single from the album. Radiator: