You gotta be working hard if you’re from Detroit and you’re still working, and that’s certainly true of Motown’s Electric Six, who seem to put out a record a year, and tour more than once a year (thankfully, singer Dick Valentine – QRO interview – hasn’t lost his hard-working ways after moving to that den of iniquity, Brooklyn…). The output has varied in quality, both record-to-record and within each over-stuffed album (on average at just over fourteen tracks), and has always stood in the shadow of early breakout singles "Gay Bar" and "Danger! High Voltage!". For this year’s Heartbeats and Brainwaves, E6 up the synths, but keep the mock, even if Valentine’s vocals get rather lost in the process.
Electric Six have always mixed rock and disco, with a ‘mock-‘ prefix before both, thanks to Valentine’s lyrics. Heartbeats goes for the disco in pieces such as "French Bacon", "It Gets Hot", "Interchangeable Knife", "Eye Contact", and "Free Samples", but these pieces lack the lyrical mockery of Dick Valentine. Better are the more mock-rock songs like mock-anthems "Gridlock!" and "Bleed For the Artist", though there’s also a mock-love anthem ("The Intergalactic Version") and, possibly, mock-werewolf ("I Go Through Phases").
The heavier usage of synths on Heartbeats and Brainwaves may well put off longtime E6 fans used to their more recent rock tendencies, but synths were featured highly in "Gay Bar" and "High Voltage!", and more spins will make one more acclimated to the record (as opposed to prior E6 releases, which either catch your ear immediately upon first listen, or never will). And admittedly, after the late-period success of last year’s Zodiac (QRO review), Heartbeats is a step down. But Electric Six just keep on chuggin’.
MP3 Stream: "Bleed For the Artist"