Somewhat frustratingly for the rest of us, Portland-based producer Johnny Jewel seems to have found his niche recruiting attractive singers to his various disco projects. Having already released albums with Chromatics and Glass Candy (fronted by Ruth Radelet and Ida No respectively), Jewel formed Desire after spotting vocalist Megan-Louise singing in a Montreal bar. Joining them is drummer Nat Walker from Chromatics, making Desire a kind of supergroup of musicians from New Jersey label Italians Do It Better. Under the stewardship of Mike Simonetti, the fledgling imprint has become synonymous with blissed-out disco, and now boasts quality acts like Bottin, Tiedye and Professor Genius in its stable. But its Jewel's projects that feature prominently: Chromatics' 2007 album Night Drive, along with the After Dark compilation of the same year, first brought IDIB into the limelight.
This offering is very much in keeping with Jewel's style: sharp piano stabs and synthesizers form a subtle, icy backdrop to sultry vocals. What sets Jewel's work apart from many other disco acts is his reluctance to use computers and new equipment in both production and live performance, thus giving the music an analog quality that is infinitely more arresting than most contemporary disco counterparts.
The majority of the lyrical content is bleak; this is not an album that grabs you on the first listen. Instead, I found myself slowly succumbing to its charms after several runs through. "Mirroir Mirroir" is the most accessible and dancefloor-orientated song on the album, with Louise echoing that well-worn fairytale phrase, "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all." Then her dark lyrics come to the fore: "I worked so hard and for what?...Show me your heart and I'll show you my blood." After "Don't Call," a classic piece of disco-noir, the album takes a noticeable spin towards the melancholic, with prominent Italo beats replaced by slower, moodier synths and high-end piano.
On "Dans Mens Reve" a saxophone solo follows an introduction reminiscent of a needle running over vinyl (as previously used by Jewel in Chromatics' "In the City"). Jewel's instruments take a back seat to Megan-Louise's vocals on "Oxygene," while "If I Can't Hold You," with three minutes of static after the track is finished, brings II to a moody, wordless close.
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Tracklist: Desire - II 01. Montre Moi Ton Visage
02. Mirroir Mirroir
03. Don't Call
04. Dans Mes Reves
05. Under Your Spell
06. Colourless Sky
08. If I Can't Hold You
09. Part II
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