Canadian band Dragonette are a bit of an oddity in the pop music world. While their songs are always rooted in the structure and melodies of pop, they pull influence from many different genres with both a modern and retro vibe. Their 2007 debut Galore was a pure electro-pop romp, but with enough ‘street cred’ to win over both the hipsters and unashamed pop lovers. With 2009′s Fixin’ To Thrill the group went in a bit of a grittier direction, with stronger elements of rock, punk, and even country. On this latest effort, Bodyparts, Dragonette seem to have landed closer to the mark they’ve always been aiming for; a perfect blend of electro-pop glamour with a moderate dose of rock ‘n roll swagger.
Opening track ‘Run Run Run’ starts things off with a mid-tempo burst of nostalgia and lush warmth. Things are quickly brought up a notch with the current single ‘Live In This City’ which absolutely rocks out. The spirit of this song seems to live as a new generation’s version of Starship’s stadium-sized anthem ‘We Built This City’. In the hilarious video (seen below) Dragonette slickly make their way through what appears to be an abandoned city, only to find a whole population of undercover drag queens residing there. It’s Dragonette at their best: funny, free-spirited, and shamelessly pop ‘n roll.
Elsewhere on the album ‘Untouchable’ finds a coy yet frisky Martina swooning for an unattainable man. It’s another fantastically retro yet modern slice of synth-electro. A huge highlight is the upbeat ‘My Legs’ where Martina’s blaming her constant party habits on her possessed body: ‘I can’t stop my legs, my legs go out late dancing / I try to wash my face, my lips they put on make-up / I can’t stay home ‘cause my body’s got myself all dressed up / and I’m the one who pays for it tomorrow when I wake-up’. Dragonette has always been able to give a quirky and fresh spin to over-used lyrical themes in pop party tunes.
The album closes with one of the biggest and saddest tracks the band has recorded called ‘My Ghost’. It’s an excellent song, but also seems to point out a slight flaw in the album. The record begins and then ends with the only two tracks that convey a vulnerable and melancholic esthetic. It’s not a sound the band does often, but when they do go there they do it very well. Throughout the body of the record, the pace is kept mostly cheeky and upbeat. Somewhere in there Bodyparts could really use a big-ballad/tear-jerker to even things out a bit. After a few listens all the tracks reveal themselves to be solid and clever, but somewhere near track 8 or 9, the pace seems to get a little too similar.
Overall though, Bodyparts is Dragonette’s strongest effort to date. Once again they’ve taken primary control of the production and song-writing, managing to keep their unique style and introduce new aspects to their sound. You also get the sense that the band has yet to reach their pinnacle, and that’s important because it’s what makes both the casual listener and devoted fan stay tuned for more.
Go Get It: ‘Live In This City’ / ‘My Legs’
Forget It: ‘My Work Is Done’