The nihilistic rage that consumed the late Seventies struggled for many fantasies and ideals: Britain’s economic devolution was in full swing and consumed by the degeneration of its insouciant youth; punk was the middleclass paradigm fought for by an army of working class drones; and “Disco Sucks” adorned many a t-shirt as the genre began to fall upon deaf ears.
However, the essence of disco was still to be embraced in many parts of Europe (Italy, Spain, Germany), evolving with the addition of synthesisers, drum machines and vocoders in order to create the birth of electronic music, and what was to be dubbed “Italo-disco”.
Early Eighties producers such as Casco and Kano shaped the genre using unorthodox production techniques as their poppy, futuristic undulations cascaded through a halcyon era of 1983-4. Now, Heartbreak emerge with their debut album ‘Lies’ (on Lex Records) as an Eighties Italian anachronism.
With the same distinct artifices that enveloped its naissance, the Anglo-Argentine pairing of Ali Renault (production and keys) and Sebastian Muravchik (vocals) have attempted to revive disco’s death with all the camp pomposity, playful passion and melancholy sentiment for a new generation of escapist consumers.
‘We’re Back’ opens as a simple statement of intent: resonating swirls of archaic electronica, elemental key loops and tight drum beats build a retrograde dais for Muravchik’s Soft Cell vocals to project from – “So you’ve heard it all before/We’re back from the disco to the radio.”
With disco’s influence capturing a sense of sensuality and harmony, Heartbreak’s electro stability gives structure and progression to a reflective mirror ball melange: what is often ostentatious in Pet Shop Boys/The Human League vocal-synth intertwining in ‘Robots Got The Feeling’ and ‘Akin To Dancing’, darkens in disposition and brutal complexity in ‘Regret’ and ‘Deadly Pong’.
In all, ‘Lies’ has managed to acquaint itself with everything that was idiosyncratic of the Eighties; skipping hand-in-hand with the flamboyance, fantasy and romanticism of a decade in which time forgot for sentimentality and overriding trivial conservatism. On face value, it has its endearing qualities of flippant susceptibility in want of change and advancement; however, in retrospect, fails to live up to such desires in place of jovial hubris.