Mischievous, fun synth-pop
The idea of getting slapped in the face is usually pretty bad. Most times, there’s a very good reason that warranted a slap, and there’s a lot of self-embarrassment that comes with being slapped. Sometimes, though, a slap to the face feels thrilling and energizing, pumping adrenaline all throughout the body; hell, a slap to the face can sometimes feel good. This kind of slap is exactly the kind of slap that Night Club delivers on their newest album, Scary World.
With a darker twist than their previous studio album, Requiem for Romance, the musical duo of singer Emily Kavanaugh and producer Mark Brooks builds upon and refines their brooding but energetic synth-pop melodies found on their second album and smooth out any edges that hindered their previous album. Eschewing some of their more low-key efforts, Night Club work to their advantages to produce 32 hauntingly memorable minutes. Overall, this album is a substantial leap forward in both quality and style, when compared to the band’s previous EPs, and is miles ahead of their soundtrack for the short-lived cartoon Moonbeam City.
The duo produces a one-two combo that certainly sets the tone for the rest of the album. The opening track “Beware!” really serves as a warning to the listener that the atmospheric, lush-like quality the song has is not the same as the rest of this album. Right as “Scary World” comes in, it’s nothing but bold, dark dance music with a synth punch that will catch even the most veteran listener off guard. Kavanaugh’s singing this time around is much more ingrained with the production, giving her an edge that wasn’t present in the rest of Night Club’s discography. Even with slower, more minimalistic production, like the production on “Therapy (Get High),” Kavanaugh doesn’t steal the spotlight from Brooks’ production.
Much of the edge that Kavanaugh found in her singing can be credited to the more focused production coming in from Mark Brooks. Such tracks such as the previously released single “Candy Coated Suicide” and closer “Survive” showcase the best of Brooks and Kavanaugh as a collective unit. Both of these songs walk the fine line between sinister–thanks to the darker turn Brooks went with production– and bubbly–in part due to Kavanaugh’s pop-sounding vocals, and find balance in between the two to create a commendable response.
This album still has its flaws, namely in the distorted background vocals that appear in several of the songs; this overreliance on background vocals takes away from Kavanaugh’s performance and often bloat up the album by adding filler to primarily lean tracks. Some songs are hurt more by these distorted vocals than others, namely “Your Addiction” and its excessive featuring of slowed down vocals that overstay their welcome, leading to a song that could have been trimmed significantly. For an album that barely crosses the half-hour mark, that isn’t a good thing, especially with artists outside of the electronic genre making shorter, but well-rounded albums (namely Kanye West).
As an overall product, however, Scary World delivers good, consistent, quality music that their other efforts were lacking in. While there were definite lulls, they were not as pronounced as they were in than other works. Wicked, yet playful, this album is a positive artistic direction for the duo. It shouldn’t be surprising if future efforts from Night Club result in more of those adrenaline-rushing, vitalizing slaps to the face.