Consider Groove Armada electro-pop’s last stand. The duo is so far removed from the genre’s heyday it’s impressive that they’ve remained more or less intact—and more impressive that stadiums are still bowing to their squelchy, screechy synth exposition. Black Light is their sixth studio release, and unlike the gluey, glazy bedroom recordings that define the current electronic landscape, it takes pride in polishing its songs to a mirror shine.
Take the single “Paper Romance,” a five-minute synthesizer kaleidoscope in which, amid an utterly exhilarating guitar scuttle, SaintSaviour delivers the fearless lyric, “I don’t wanna take a chance on your paper romance anyway.” The song feels unmistakably crafted, sewn together in a studio and designed from the ground up to deliver the most stimulating listening experience possible. Definitely a far cry from, say, Neon Indian.
Black Light sounds like it was buzzed in from of the early 2000s, completely and happily uninfluenced by the preceding years of dance music development. It ends up being an acutely traditional Groove Armada album: The token slow jam (“Shameless”) and the droning, delirious lover’s romp (“I Won’t Kneel”) are all here, crushed with those familiar slabs of grimy, effusive, and occasionally lovelorn electro. No, it doesn’t push the genre forward; in fact, it probably pushes it back, but Black Light impeccably delivers on everything you could possibly want from the 14-year-old band.