“The best of days aren’t over yet,” DJ Colette insists on the opening track of her third LP, When the Music’s Loud, and though it’s tempting to fixate on the baggage that would obviously accompany such a claim (specifically a claim made from one of the Chicago house scene’s long-standing fixtures, who in the past has been well aware of the weight of history behind the town, the scene, and the sound), her lilting coos and the warmth of the crunchy bassline against aggressive, bodybuilding-style beats and Falke cut-ups could easily trick you into presuming the end of days will never come. As she insists later in the album, “Feels so right, right now.”
Colette is known for improvising lyrics while spinning in the club, and her music has a contradictorily loose but driving energy, like a mixed martial-arts bout fought with neon-blue throw pillows. She blends her steely rust-belt beats with notably Euro flourishes, and the outcome feels familiar without being rote. To the untrained or intoxicated ear, most of When the Music’s Loud would integrate on the dance floor at even the most EDM-addled bar—though it bears pointing out that the album’s best moments are the ones that separate the househead wheat from the party-bus chaff. “Physically” keeps its synth lines simmering well below the ever-escalating full-intention waterline, using them to shade the song with seduction, danger, vertigo, and menace instead of priapic orgasm.
Even when Colette pushes the knobs to 11 on “Infatuation,” it’s with the precision of a DJ who knows the importance of ebb and flow. “Hotwire” freestyles over a sample of Adonis’s “No Way Back” that, if I owned an ultra-exclusive house-music secret society, would be the password, while the spare, buggy “Worked Up” comes on like the downtempo love child of Connie Case and Olivia Newton-John. The title track takes its own sweet time to patiently accumulate Italo-electro momentum before serving up a coda that disperses it all amid “Nadia’s Theme”-reminiscent piano chords, an aloof maneuver that’s matched in the lyrics: “When the music’s loud, I don’t think about you/When I’m in the crowd, I can be without you.”
Colette’s detachment in that song is only a red herring though. Throughout the 11-track set, you feel as if you’re in the hands of a trusted confidante, the DJ for whom the job is never work, who ensures love in this club. Whether there’s enough nutrients in When the Music’s Loud to sustain beyond the initial rush is irrelevant. Like the title of one of the songs says, it’s “Beautiful Tonight” and feels so right, right now.