released Mar 2nd, 2010

from the album - I Won't Kneel

YouTube - Groove Armada - I Won't Kneel Music Video

from all music

London dance duo Groove Armada consist of Tom Findlay and Andy Cato. The group formed in the mid-'90s after Findlay and Cato were introduced by the latter's girlfriend and soon started their own club, also named Groove Armada (after a '70s discotheque), which featured their spinning. By 1997 they released a handful of singles, including "4 Tune Cookie" and "At the River"; their debut album, Northern Star, followed the next year. Issued in 1999, Vertigo made the Top 20 of the British charts and silver status in the U.K. The album's singles achieved similar heights, including "I See You Baby," which was remixed by Fatboy Slim. The group followed this success with a stint as Elton John's opening band and with the U.S. release of Vertigo in early 2000. An album of remixes followed shortly after, featuring post-productions by DJ Icey and Tim "Love" Lee. After releasing a mix album, Back to Mine, the duo returned with a sophomore production effort, 2001's Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). Two years later, Lovebox highlighted a new kind of funk for Groove Armada, with kitschy vibes and collaborative efforts coming from Neneh Cherry, Nappy Roots, and R&B chanteuse Sunshine Anderson. Soundboy Rock, released in 2007, continued the emphasis on catchy hooks and became the fourth straight GA album to reach the British Top Ten. Black Light, a darker affair featuring vocals from Saintsaviour, was released three years later.

album review from prefixmag

The Groove Armada process is rote by this point. Andy Cato and Tom Findlay act as ringleaders, bringing in their newest coterie of vocalists, then putting them through their paces as they dance across genres and styles. When Cato said in January that MGMT served as a major inspiration for Black Light, it might have been tempting to think that perhaps he had misspoken. After all, Groove Armada has been around for more than a decade, delivering big-beat essentials over that period, from "I See You Baby" to "Song 4 Mutya," and there seemed to be very little overlap with the neo-psychedelia purveyed by the Wesleyan Brooklynites. On the other hand, Groove Armada has been willing to adapt and change its sound to a fault, so the idea of a more psychedelic groove wouldn't have been completely impossible to imagine.

To complete the intended effect, the group brought in Nick Littlemore, whose prior involvement with Empire of the Sun offered an Australian tangent to MGMT, albeit one that took the facepaint and the falsettos to a bit of an extreme. On songs like single "Paper Romance," the group interprets its proclaimed influence in the strictest sense (with just enough Before the Dawn Heals Us-era M83 thrown in). But the MGMT influence is difficult, if not impossible, to perceive on some of the tracks. Instead, the group delivers its consistently darkest album to date, forsaking the bright bounciness of its last entry, Soundboy Rock, for a much more introspective approach. Sure, the group's tendency toward maximalism is present as always, but the group uses reverb and chorus this time to suggest that it's all alone and yet still surrounded. It's as if the band wants to make it clear that you're not alone at the disco, baby.

The album kicks off with "Look Me in the Eye Sister," and the Armada proves it still has a right to the groove, with exactly the sort of deep, propulsive rhythm we would expect for a show-opener. The song works itself into a climax, where you can just imagine the spotlights kicking on and blinding you with their intensity. It's a good feeling. For many of the rest of the songs on the album, the group seems to be looking for that same high, whether it's the dancing-with-Molly-Ringwald-at-the-end-of-prom of "I Won't Kneel" or the soulful "Time & Space." Cato and Findlay bring in the lesser-known Fenech Soler, SaintSaviour, Jess Larrabee, and Will Young to provide further vocals, and all the artists involved seem ready to commit just enough of themselves to the project to make it seem cohesive. Groove Armada embraces synthesized bass lines like they're going out of style, and there's not a moment where it doesn't feel like the group isn't trying to wring every ounce of emotion out of its buildups and breakdowns. Sure, it's overwrought, but it's still great pop.

The only deadspot occurs with "Cards to Your Heart," which features a ridiculous spoken interlude throwing out laughable pap: "For the real link to enlightenment is forgiveness/ For under the sun we are better and warmer together." Oh, and there's that one other vocalist that somebody must have dug out of the Rolodex: some fellow named Bryan Ferry. Actually, bespoke suits and Ferry's croon never go out of style, so it's a pleasant surprise to hear him on "Shameless," which might have been Ferry's lost contribution to the Blade Runner soundtrack. By this point, it must be a contractual clause for Ferry's voice to come accompanied by a cooing female's, but when did it become necessary to phase his voice? A faux pas, indeed.

The album is pure Groove Armada pop at the end, but the decision to be slightly less saccharine means that it's not nearly as disposable as some previous outings. Next time Cato should just shut up about his influences and let the music stand on its own. In this case, he doesn't need to be inviting comparisons to anyone else.

Track Listing

1. "Look Me In The Eye Sister" (feat. Jess Larrabee) 4:07
2. "Fall Silent" (feat. Nick Littlemore) 4:35
3. "Just For Tonight" (feat. Jess Larrabee) 4:05
4. "Not Forgotten" (feat. Nick Littlemore) 5:34
5. "I Won't Kneel" (feat. SaintSaviour) 4:36
6. "Cards to Your Heart" (feat. Nick Littlemore) 5:35
7. "Paper Romance" (feat. Fenech-Soler & SaintSaviour) 6:19
8. "Warsaw" (feat. Nick Littlemore) 4:04
9. "Shameless" (feat. Bryan Ferry) 4:48
10. "Time & Space" (feat. SaintSaviour & Jess Larrabee) 4:53
11. "History" (feat. Will Young) 4:10