Parisian trio Keep Dancing Inc. are, as their name suggests, fully aware that the process of creating sounds to make bodies move is big business. On the evidence of this debut album, they have done extensive market research, too, although less predominantly in their home country than you might imagine.
‘Embrace’ is more attuned to the electro-flavoured indie dancefloor fillers of the last two decades from across the Channel than it is to the traditions of French dance music. The result is an album that both bursts with the essence of youth and finds itself trading in familiar tropes.
Keep Dancing Inc. are at their best on tracks like ‘Could U Stop’, where bouncing, primary-coloured synth hooks and Gabrielle Cresseaux’s driving beat couple with one of the most touching tales of brotherly love since The Hollies to make a sunny concoction. ‘Start Up Nation’ draws from the same energy, this time playing the hedonism off against a wry lyrics tackling society’s most craven impulses (“If you can’t make ends meet, just cross the street/In the start-up nation, you’d better be discreet”).
Whether the same tongue-in-cheek mentality stretches to ‘Silent & Satisfied’ or not is unclear, but that track’s commitment to the clichés of the chillwave blisscore of yesteryear, complete with summer-breeze-by-the-lakeside imagery, work well enough whether it’s meant as an ersatz version or the real thing.
The spectre of ’00s acts like Metronomy and Friendly Fires is never too far away on ‘Embrace’, but ‘How It Starts’ and ‘Uncertainty’ come off as pale impressions rather than vital rejuvenations of the form. When they lean more strongly into a guitar-centric direction on ‘Long Enough’, it’s just a further dilution away from the gold dust, trading in angst for preppiness.
In fact, Keep Dancing Inc. reap the greatest rewards when they change the pace. ‘Corsica Love’ lets their dream pop tendencies come to the fore – a panoramic, textured track that taps in to what seems like it could be a rich vein for the group.
Album highlight ‘Old Child’ picks up the pace yet retains the same emotional complexity, allowing intricate synth arrangements to surge towards a triumphant climax, before a bittersweet chorus tempers the energy. It suggests a more three-dimensional future for Keep Dancing Inc. if they allow their adventurous instincts to run free.
- Release date: October 23
- Record label: Un Plan Simple Records