Moon King’s modern take on disco and dance music captures a timeless energy and vibe.
I went to university and studied Drama and Theatre Arts at a prominent Ontario school renowned for its STEM programming. I and my program compatriots were the very epitome of fish out of water. While there was a very active bar scene on campus and in town, it was the 90s, and given the bevy of wannabe engineers and mathematicians, the music and vibe leaned heavily towards beer and frat rock. Not exactly the kind of environment where an alt-Brit-rock/electro-pop-loving undergrad with a flair for theatrics could lose himself on the dancefloor. Thank God the locals DJs took a shine to “Born Slippy”, otherwise a night out for me would have been a lost cause.
That’s why I think I’ve taken such a shine to Voice of Lovers, the latest full-length affair from ex-pat Daniel Benjamin’s work as Moon King. With nary a second between its twelve songs to catch your breath or sip a drink, Voice of Lovers is a hedonistic set of “dark and fun and a little nihilistic” music perfect for losing oneself in. Benjamin keeps each track short and relatively tight (the longest clocks in at a second over five minutes), but like a child’s Connect-the-Dots activity sheet, he seamlessly links each song to its neighbour to help create Moon King’s Night-at-the-Disco-circa-1985 vibe. Opener “Around the World” has a Culture-Club inspired groove that would have certainly filled the floor at Studio 54. Benjamin has said early single “Come Away with Me” takes a musical cue from Cake’s “Short Skirt Long Jacket”, but I hear more of a three-way between Madonna’s “Into the Groove”, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive, and Pet Shop Boys’s “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”.
In some cases, the brevity of the songs doesn’t do them justice. The album’s title track feels like an unfinished sketch that bridges a pair of more complete songs. “You & Me (We’re Naked)” suffers similarly; it bursts in with all the bluster its title suggests before coyly collapsing into the more clearly defined closer “Separation Anxiety”. Still, if Benjamin’s intent with the latest Moon King album was to capture the dizzying and disorientating feeling of an all-night club-hop, Voice of Lovers delivers in spades. Ever the fish out of water, Moon King’s modern take on disco and dance music manages to capture a timeless energy and vibe.