SHOCKING PINKS

Dance the Dance Electric

A Low Hum

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Pitchfork Review 2007

Former Brunettes drummer Nick Harte's first DFA release is a 17-track, 45-minute compilation cherrypicked from two albums recorded for the legendary Flying Nun, and it apes the scruffy, emotionally vulnerable indie that made that New Zealand imprint famous.

When New Zealand's Shocking Pinks emerged in 2004, they sounded like they belonged on DFA. Debut album Dance the Dance Electric took up arms in the disco-punk revolution the label had declared a couple of years earlier with near-perfect 12"'s like the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" and LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge". Except Shocking Pinks' one-man-band man Nick Harte couldn't be pigeonholed as easily as most of his cowbell-wielding peers. Harte's interests were more eclectic, his lyrics bittersweet. Party-starters aren't supposed to have, like, feelings.

Beyond its high standard of quality, Shocking Pinks' first DFA release might seem a less obvious fit for the label. And not just because Harte's project shares its name with Neil Young's 1980s rockabilly sidemen. A 17-track, 45-minute compilation cherrypicked from Shocking Pinks' two 2005 albums for New Zealand's legendary Flying Nun imprint (Mathematical Warfare and Infinity Land), Shocking Pinks veers even further from early-2000s Brooklyn for an emotionally vulnerable highlight reel of scruffy Jesus and Mary Chain dream-pop, ecstatic My Bloody Valentine haze, droning C-86 confessionals, and bedroom New Order bass lines. Oh yeah, and cowbell.

Harte is the ex-drummer for the Brunettes, who made their promising Sub Pop debut earlier this year. Those Kiwi indie-poppers go for lavish studio orchestration, but Shocking Pinks adhere to the lo-fi principles of hugely influential Flying Nun bands the Clean and Tall Dwarfs. Harte's vocals are whispery and fragile, delivered with a slight lisp. He plays all the instruments himself: The tragic synths on "End of the World" or "The Narrator", the electric-guitar squall of "Blonde Haired Girl" or Psychocandy descendant "I Want U Back", the distant acoustic strums over the fuzzed-out anomie of "Victims", the prominent Peter Hook bass of "This Aching Deal". You can hear strings squeaking, fingers sliding-- the homemade-pop legacy of Flying Nun's early-1980s Dunedin Sound left to 1990s indie groups like Pavement or Boyracer.