In the late ‘70s a new sound was forming. Punk and Disco had already established their front lines and set up camp in their respective clubs. The two scenes existed as polar opposites; the former driven by a strange dichotomy of nihilism coupled with a contradictory sense of extreme social responsibility, the latter subsisting off the classic bourgeois ennui. To put it plainly, one wanted to set everything on fire, the other just wanted to dance. As the decade closed, however, a few bands were beginning to toe the line. Groups like Blondie and Talking Heads were toying with electronics and developed an increasing dance groove. Gary Numan’s “Cars” took off, and New Order moved away from the dark past they’d left behind as Joy Division. By 1984 large sections of a generation that had grown up pogoing found themselves in dance clubs as New Wave swept across Europe and the US and the Rave scene was blooming from Manchester.
Today New Wave is alive and well as illustrated by ‘dance punk’ group WhoMadeWho’s new album Knee Deep. The record begs to be played in the early hours of the morning while your head is still pulsing after a summer night out, cruising home through the neon lights of downtown, or blaring through headphones on the metro, forehead against the window, trying to forget that you have work in three hours.
We start off with the laid back track “There’s An Answer”, where the smooth voice of Jeppe Kjellberg is relaxing, haunting, and has a hint of the Ian Curtis-crooning left behind by New Order. The album increases in pace with each track and by the time we round the bend for the second half we’re in full-blown dance mode. “Two Feet Off the Ground” has an updated-yet-classically ‘80s, racing synthesizer vibe (think “Take On Me” with a modern sound-scape washing over it).
These three Danes have put together an album that will hold up in any dance club and will appeal to listeners from a wide variance of genre offshoots.