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120 Days used to record post-punk material under the name Beautiful People, and they've infused their take on space disco with, at times, a confrontational attitude. (Their first singles as 120 Days—"Come Out, Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone" and "Sleepwalking"—placed a Public Image Ltd-esque quality atop their 4/4 credentials.) Their second album, simply titled II, has more of an electronic shine, but they unfortunately don't fully jettison the Krautrock-like moods, making for a record where two sounds coexist more than fully gel together.
On "Dahle Disco," for instance, Scandinavian space cadet Lindstrøm guest produces, and brings a focus lacking from his recent long player. The end result is ten minutes of propulsive Italo with sharp edges. In the same vein, "SF" goes for percussion-oriented, almost tribal vibes—not unlike the kind of jams Lindstrøm records with Prins Thomas for Eskimo— until heavily filtered synth pads steal the show. Next to those you have "Sleepless Nights #4," a barely two-minute long ballad that recalls British shoegazers Spiritualized at their most grief-stricken and opiated. That song's gorgeous yet somehow misplaced sentimentality quickly vanishes, and is replaced by "Sunkissed," a stoner rock piece à la mid-career The Verve that even the abstract Moog-bound arrangement lurking in the background can't dissipate.
The album's alleged pièce de résistance is made up of the three (albeit quite short) parts of "Lucid Dreams," a mini electronic symphony that starts up all sweepingly melodic àla Johnny Jewel, but quickly gives in to EBM-like impulses that propels the entire thing to… nowhere really specific: The sudden fade-in finale comes across as arbitrary, as if the band didn't know how to properly end the track's wide-eyed sense of build-up. "Lucid Dreams" is a neat metaphor for II as a whole: The music probably sounds huge via live set-ups (with amplification, improvisations, crowd reactions and all), and you can't help but wonder if the stage is truly where this music will fully come alive and ultimately find its purposes. In its studio form, though, II remains a lukewarm, ambivalent understatement.
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Tracklist: 120 Days - II 01. Spacedoubt
02. Dahle Disco
03. Lucid Dreams â€“ Part I
04. Lucid Dreams â€“ Part II
05. Lucid Dreams â€“ Part III
06. Sleepless Nights # 4