First Impressions: Sneaky Sound System's 80's Joyride

Friday, October 14, 2011


There is a subliminal message embedded in this album when you play it.

It's: "Dance Your Ass Off!!!"

Yes, the sage statement derives from Footloose (the 1984 original---not that bull shiggity recession era remake), but it's pretty apt when discussing Sneaky Sound System and their third release, From Here To Anywhere. Your gluttus maximus will know exactly what to do just that when you play it---and you won't be able to stop it. Keeping in the neon spirit of the 80's (remember everything old is new again in the 21st century), the Aussie duo comprised of producer, Black Angus and mega vocalist, Connie Mitchell, make an album that  doesn't screw around with taking you to the floor nor serving up the 'big' grooves.

What you'll hear isn't Disney Starlet-Teen Bop-Glee pop-dance traps. Oh, no what you'll hear will direct you away from the grade school playground antics of Top 40 to where you'll want to hang with the big kids behind the dumpster swapping smokes and complex inside jokes. Sneaky Sound System has always walked the same road as say, Goldfrapp, Scissor Sisters, or Robyn, to where their dance music was bold enough to be methodically pleasing, but possessed an edge that didn't make you feel like you were losing IQ points.

Crisp precision is how From Here To Anywhere operates, even more so than on their first two album, which hints at them reaching for commercial success. Still this works as each and every song seamlessly flows into the next one and it is bold, but not overindulgent. The production isn't bogged down with too much filler sound to where you don't know what blip or bleep to listen to first (a plague for dance-electronic albums). Things are kept simple, even minimal, yet offer so much. It's a real cite to the electronic days when New Order, Pet Shop Boys, and Yazoo were (and still are) creating sparse, yet rhythmic dance music when "Friends" opens the album on a mysterious step with it's thick basslines. "We Love" and its ping-pong rhythm does very little, yet does more as it bops along with its innuendo riddled lyrics.  



The real star of the show is Mitchell's voice which is full of punch and is so crystal clear that she immediately joins the echelon of vocal sirens like Martha Wash, Jocelyn Brown, and Alison Moyet who all splashed their vocals over some of the 80's and 90's most prolific floor-filling grooves. Yes, I speak of lots of 80's acts because that's exactly how this album feels, it feels old school derived and executed, as if songs like the hypnotic "The Colours" and "I'm Not Leaving" didn't remind you enough. Deep House is given a spin on "I Need You So" while the forth-right "Lovetown" squishes on New Wave aesthetics, still all do the time warp again.

"Big" is the foundation for this house of dance that SSS have built, and the whole album sort of builds itself around it. "Big" just makes a grand entrance as it dazzles and lives up to it's title---it's a mammoth of a tune. Only the fittingly titled, "1984", which formulates a modern time association to the George Orwell novel, rivals it in all of it's phenomenal epic climb.



Even though everything here is blistering good in it's own special way, SSS are knee deep in the 80's to where (and I agree with BBC Music's assessment) that From Here To Anywhere sounds like a greatest hits collective derived from a singular idea. Once again that is what occurs when you drench an album in vintage appeal, yet SSS escape from the clutches of generic copy-cat-ism by not sucking the fun out of what they're doing. And this album is just that---pure loads of fun, the way a listening experience should be.

For pop music, image always plays a factor to where the groove is watered down, even forgotten, this album doesn't suffer from that fate, it banishes the idea that you can't possibly have a mature dance record. If you just trim off the fat, calories, and ego of Top 40 pop-dance, you can get something as satisfying as what Sneaky Sound System have created here---and then some.


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Release Date: October 7, 2011 (AUS) // October 17, 2011 (WW)

1 comment:

  1. i agree about the 80's influence. "we love" reminds me of eddy grant (with its phrasing and such) while "big" throws me back to the pet shop boys and other 80's edm.

    it's sad that i only discovered them recently. http://tooshallow.com/2012/07/11/my-thoughts-on-sneaky-sound-system/

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