“I can hear everything, it’s everything time,” begins Eye Contact, leading the listener to think the creative kitchen sink is about to be thrown at them. But, this small spoken sample is not indicative of the album as a whole. Over the course of Gang Gang Dance’s discography, it may feel like they have given us all the weird vibes and experimental dance grooves that a group of people could come up with off the cuff, so, they have continued their progression logically. They have reigned in and made their music more “accessible.” This does not make for a pop album by any sense of the word, but, rather, an experimental jam cut-up session with pop sensibilities. Making like the William S. Burroughs of improvisational music suits Gang Gang Dance, and Eye Contact is their Naked Lunch.
Granted, a more direct and focused Gang Gang Dance is still pretty out-there by most standards. Eye Contact‘s opening number is more than eleven-minutes long and the record contains 3 tracks serving as bridges that go untitled, well, rather, annotated with infinity symbols. But, these bits of hyper-creativity only accent the strong songwriting (or song constructing) that is the heart of Eye Contact. About 6 minutes into “Glass Jar,” a distinct synth groove is revealed along with Lizzi Bougatsos’ reassuring proclamations that she will care for the object of the song like a family member. Indeed, Eye Contact continues this intimate gesture throughout, acting like Gang Gang Dance has a wild ride to take the listener on, but will hold their hand for comfort in the uncertain waters. If experimental music can feel like a warm hug, this is it.
The atmosphere of Eye Contact is not necessarily consistent, but that isn’t really a bad thing. “Adult Goth” combines 80s synth gloom with Middle-Eastern textures, sounding like a creepy and sexy snake charming. On “MindKilla,” the group sounds more Knife-esque, with kaleidoscopic samples adding to a core dance beat that is as infectious as any top-40 hit. Balancing this are bizarre vocals that often seem to be pulled from Bougatsos unwillingly, with her trying desperately to hold on to her own voice. Then, by the end, the song has somehow come full circle to return to its clubbiness that is nearly masked throughout.
Though the album is not perfect (see the too-heavy bass line of “Romance Layers” that gives off the smooth-jazz vibe of a department store), the album’s success rests in Gang Gang Dance’s desire to continue their natural progression while never compromising their weird-ass tendencies. Album closer, “Thru and Thru,” again goes all Temple Of Doom with its synth lead, with added club accents and a slow-burn climax that leaves the listener with a whispered line of “live forever.” In listening, you will find yourself letting loose a slow exhale through your open-jawed mouth as the album concludes. Yeah, Gang Gang Dance’s idea of accessible and pop-ready is just as trippy and emotionally affecting as ever. Now, you can play it in the car on a Friday night, too.