Louisville’s dance-funk enterprise VHS or Beta take a huge step forward with the engaging Bring on the Comets. Following the Francophile beats and grooves of 2002’s Le Funk EP, the anything-but-bluegrass band dropped a notch with their full-length, Astralwerks debut, Night on Fire, leaving their now wider sound rather shallow. But they’ve fleshed in that approach, growing beyond Le dance-Funk. While still a mixed bag at times, Bring on the Comets certainly ‘brings’ it.
Unsurprisingly for a dance album, Comets is lead by its two winning singles, the back-to-back “Can’t Believe a Single World” and “Burn It All Down”. “Can’t” displays catchy rhythm and melodies that just completely work, while the no less great “Burn” goes darker, and more pressing. Other pieces follow this path, but early tracks “Love In My Pocket” and “She Says” can feel a little lightweight.
But Comets isn’t just a glorified double single, as it also explores a more expansive, epic arena, nowhere better than on the record’s title track. “Bring on the Comets” plays like a great theme song to some classic eighties flick, soaring like Ralph Macchio over Cobra Kai. The soft echoes of the following “Fall Down Lightly” provide a nice counterpoint, but the growing waves of “Take It Or Leave It” are unfortunately weighed down by plodding points in between.
The finishing trio of “We Could Be One”, “Time Stands Still”, and “The Stars Where We Came From” all possess the same flaw, but to varying degrees. The heavy Casiotone dance anthem “One” and ‘hold on’-style dance beat “Time” both feel a touch obvious, the kind of dance music one has heard before, and will hear again. But, while the sad, melancholy “Stars” starts off the same way, the piano love song slowly worms its way into your heart.
Bring on the Comets is not a perfect record, as the standout pieces come with paler copies. And, like most dance albums, some tracks go on a step too long for a listener who isn’t on the dance floor. But it’s light years ahead of Night on Fire, and puts VHS or Beta at the front of today’s indie-dance scene.