The Golden Filter’s Voluspa might be considered Pink Floyd’s A Collection of Great Dance Songs without the irony. Voluspa sounds a lot like what would have happened if David Gilmour followed the path of the Human League, hired Kate Bush as his permanent vocalist, and decided to fully embrace the four-on-the-floor of “Another Brick in the Wall.”
The album comes loaded with two already proven tracks, with “Solid Gold” and “Thunderbird” whetting listeners’ appetites for the band’s particular breed of mystic disco since 2008. New single “Hide Me” is destined for success because it sticks to what works: arpeggiation and dance rhythms pounded out with primitive energy.
The Brooklyn-based duo knows its influences -- kicking off “Look Me in the Eye” with a synthesized drum ripped from Blondie -- but is still capable of crafting tracks like the slow burners “Moonlight Fantasy” and “Kiss Her Goodbye,” mixing disco beats with a more cryptic and fantasy-derived lyricism. The group also lets songs like “The Underdogs” add a bit of optimism to the proceedings, although it sounds Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” for people who still watch The Goonies obsessively. That song’s warm synthesizer and atmospheric vocals are a mere warm-up for the long-play “Stardust,” another single-worthy contender that might as well be its own 12-inch, clocking in at a never-boring seven minutes.
While the music and vocals are gorgeous to a fault, almost brittle in their crystalline perfection, the Golden Filter’s lyrics could stand some work, occasionally giving into some of the more indulgent magic and mysticism of people who keep bookshelves full of Tolkien and Pratchett. Still, it didn't damper my enjoyment of Voluspa.
Mystic disco might be a bit constricting, so the duo’s willingness to experiment -- crafting an ambient piece like “Kiss Her Goodbye” toward the end of the album -- keeps everything from getting too redundant. More interesting may be the nearly completely acoustic “Nerida’s Gone,” in which lead singer Penelope Trappes goes baroque.
The Golden Filter took two years between “Solid Gold” and this album. That's nearly an eternity, but Voluspa reflects a group that probably thinks in terms of lands long ago and far away, and so is happy to take its time.
Voluspa is the first full-length album from The Golden Filter, an electronic duo from New York. The band’s first single, “Solid Gold,” came out in February 2009 and for the rest of that year the band’s newfound fans—many gained through performances at SXSW—had to mostly content themselves with The Golden Filter’s interpretations of other bands' music, remixes of songs by Cut Copy, Little Boots, and Peter Bjorn and John, among others. For Voluspa, The Golden Filter signed with Brille Records, the label that The Knife also call home. Like The Knife, The Golden Filter is a mysterious and secretive boy-girl electronic band, but with a heavier accent on synthesizers and disco.
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