Since first hearing Cajmere’s effervescent “Coffee Pot (It’s Time for the Percolator)” as a musically ignorant nine-year-old, I’ve had a soft spot for all kinds of house music. For listeners like me, the renewed interest in all things house from today’s various indie artists counts as good news, particularly when it pertains to acts who show an affection for crafting authentic throwbacks to the genre’s early days in the Chicago club scene. !K7 Records has taken that retrospective purity to a new level with the latest entry in their famed DJ-Kicks series, mixed by nü-disco revival outfit Hercules and Love Affair in what amounts to a double shot of stripped-down, late-‘80s house worship.
Still, despite its strict adherence to traditional and relatively straightforward dance aesthetics, the album is often showy, flaunting both its nods to authenticity and an impressive showcase of the genre’s low-tech production style. Solution’s “Feels So Right” plays like a cut from C+C Music Factory, while the style of its jubilant vocal line suggests it’s the spiritual successor to Black Box’s “Everybody Everybody.” Many tracks sound as if they’ve burst out of a time capsule from 1990: Jump Chico Slamm’s slightly dirty, high hat-riding “Feel Free,” for example, and the part-funk, part-sci-fi gurgle that’s In Flagrant’s “Magojiro,” both of which add to the album’s speedy, hip-swiveling clip.
As opposed to other modern house-influenced artists like SBTRKT or Azari & III, Hercules and Love Affair have a clear aversion to adding any genre-defying wrinkles to their own work. And that dedication to traditionalism is clear here as well, with few missteps: Fierce Ruling Diva’s “Allemaal, Allemaal!,” a diversion of awkward beats, extended lulls, and uncoordinated vocals, is one rare example of tone-deaf clumsiness. For the most part, Hercules and Love Affair have taken the clinical and disciplined style they’ve exhibited in dealing with relatively new material (such as their take on the xx’s “Shelter”) and channeled it into a crisp, near-seamless DJ mix. The result is supremely confident: a high-energy marathon of unadulterated club anthems that serves as pure musical rapture for house purists.