Jesus, it’s about fucking time. I don’t really know what happened, but this album took forever to be released. Moving Units were, I assumed, going to be a force to be reckoned with in the dance-punk game that bloomed last year, but that flower wilted before Dangerous Dreams, their debut full-length, had a chance to contend. Opening for the Walkmen on their first national tour, Moving Units exploded on stage and actually got people dancing — in New York City. It looked like hometown heroes the Rapture could find themselves in an East Coast/West Coast rivalry, which I can only imagine would end in smashed Gang of Four records and some sort of choreographed dance-off.
Moving Units even had strong EP to hawk, the self-titled the released in 2003, compiling four incredibly danceable tunes. Sure, all four tracks sounded the same, but that brevity framed their music as a quick euphoric rush. The lucky bastards got a spot as openers on the first leg of the motherfucking Pixies’ reunion tour. And their fans in waiting went on waiting for the full-length. And got this?
Moving Units kicks this one off with a re-recorded version of “Between Us and Them,” which appeared on the EP. Perhaps a good idea; this song has one of the best intros I’ve heard since, I dunno, “House of Jealous Lovers.” But here they’ve pushed the guitar hook into the background and cleaned up the production in what was certainly a mistake; the gritty guitar was an asset alongside the hypnotic bass line. Smoothing over their sound has made the song milquetoast. And this is a continuous problem throughout Dangerous Dreams. When no element — be it their bass throbs, Chris Miller’s through-a-megaphone vocals — comes to bat, they’ll have people nodding off on the dance floor.
Still, the record has marginal strengths. The hand claps are in all the right places, and the bass work will, at times, get people moving. There’s a successful dabbling with electronics on “Anyone,” creating a brighter moment in what quickly becomes a middle-of-the-road venture. It’s clear now that what really did work about the EP was the conciseness. Where their East Coast contemporaries the Rapture saw how repetition works for a dance-punk song, an entire record of the same bass line get tired. Fast. This is too little too late.