Reclining in plush corners of after-dark joints, gazing into the melted ice at the bottom of the whiskey glass. Reminiscing lost loves, embroiled memories of passion-filled highs and heartache as low as the ocean bed fuse from artists and friends New York dynamo Amy Douglas and esteemed producer Joe Goddard of The 2 Bears - collectively framed as HARD FEELINGS - in their self-titled debut album released via Domino Records on November 5th.
Amy's raspy voice, found on many a discotheque track through time, hark back to steamy, umbra tunes such as Living Joy's I'm a Dreamer or Don't You Want Me by Felix. But there is no mistaking that the merged pair's collaborations are bang up to date due to the substantially opaque basslines from Goddard's production. Holding On Too Long - the anthemically marvellous lead single - flirts with old faithful piano house and strings held together by a potent melodious glue; each syllable has meaning, unafraid to unearth past agonies.
As presumed from a vocal powerhouse and one-fifth of electro-pop heavyweights Hot Chip, the songs hold their own in the club while painting noir emotion. A slither of the anchoring poem that starts Too Long is spoken in all its glory for You Always Know: 'Where do you go when the happy home becomes a haunted house. A skeleton in every closet, a ghost in every room.' It leans against a throbbing beat, spliced between singing and reflective synths listening to what the lyrics are saying.
Douglas reveals the perceptive pair respond quickly, telepathically even, to one another, the balance of melody and 'nasty' bass just so. Rage let loose, lust is poured on opener Love Scenes with another goddess, Anna Calvi styled ahhs. A traditional stance in instruments, sultry and steady- "So please, kiss me on my mouth, play out love scenes in the dark" - while a heavy heart sighs in old-skool, retro organ keyed Running Out Of Time through its soul-stirring progression and gospel ensemble.
A beatless start to Joe's music - suited to the ambience of a planetarium - a Cafe Del Mar chill in the air for About Us, swerving into transitions, climaxing as an Ibiza jam. An old song of Amy's is revitalised through the Hip Hop rhythms of Dangerous and the courageous disco spangles of Take You Down, where sadness had faded into strength through spoonfuls of affirmations and a repetitive motif (rejoicefully reminding oneself of Jefferson's Move Your Body). "I can rule the world; I bite when I bark, boy."
Although the words roll from Douglass' self-confessional, dauntless tongue, they feel as a friend offering worldly advice, leaving the after-dark joint, tears wiped from a mascara stained face, head held high, prepared to pick up the pieces. Solution and space-aged, synth-laden Big Apple banger Sister Infinity brings the curtain down on the symphony of sadness and an electro pairing of nobility.
HARD FEELINGS is available digitally and LP, in both black and exclusive red LP. A special DomMart edition will be available with a 1970s Giallo inspired poster.
Article by Beverley Knight