Dragonette is a Canadian electronic outfit from Toronto, Ontario, formed in 2005 which these days consists of singer-songwriter Martina Sorbara, bassist and producer Dan Kurtz and drummer Joel Stouffer.
They frequently work with producer Martin Solveig – last year’s Hello! featured Martina on vocals. Dragonette would be a shallow act without her as the sassy front, and her vocals would be unremarkable were it not for the fact she’s got buckets of attitude.
Their debut album Galore was a riot of electro-pop with clever lyrics and a grown-up sensibility. I still have the CD in the car. Smart post-feminist songs such as I Get Around and Take It Like a Man. It was followed by the difficult second album Fixin’ to Thrill. It didn’t. It was a dreadful cacophany of noise and deeply unattractive art-school videos that squandered the goodwill that should have broke the band in to the big time. Some remixes, an EP and a ‘re-issue’ of Mixin’ to Thrill later (I confess, I’ve not heard it), now they’re back.
Dragonette has the sounds and the production to compete with Little Boots, Ellie Goulding, even Gwen Stefanie, sans the Doubt.
Run, Run, Run is a decent opener, Live in this City a boppy little number and Let It Go continues the thread without making any significant impression. A few songs in it all sounds a bit disposable.
Fortunately Untouchable changes tempo and injects a bit of emotion as a mid-tempo ballad – not that Dragonette do ballads as such. Far too hip, knowing and jaded for that.
Lay Low shows off just how tight and expensive is the production on this album, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s about. Again.
Things do pick up, though. Right Woman is quirky and atmospheric and a recognisable step onwards from Galore. My Legs is a essentially a comic song; Martina’s playing with identity and dissociative behaviour again. The legs go out late dancing, the lips put on makeup; it’s not her fault, honest.
Giddy Up is another cheeky little number, a chipper party piece. Rocket Ship takes us back to the 80’s. If track ten is meant to be a Riot, it’s the tidiest civil disturbance you ever heard. The bubble-gum lyrics wouldn’t trouble a fourth-grade student, but it could be a serious assault on the pop charts, a full on dance party anthem. Those ladies we mentioned above should watch out.
Surprise – My Work is Done has a guitar! But it’s not the last track. Ghost is a sweet Orchestral Maneuvers mid-tempo ballad to finish on. It may be the best song on the album and unlike the rest of the material has room to breathe and be heard.
Every song on the album is a fully formed, tightly assembled and properly engineered structure. The synths and drum machines bounce along, without necessarily producing what you’d call dance music, instead, it tends to smother the fast-flowing lyrics; Martina’s stacato vocals are sometimes difficult to follow.
If Galore was a triumphant launch and Fixin’ to Thrill hit the iceberg, then Bodyparts sails gamely along on still waters. I’d have preferred something a bit more memorable, a bit more energising – I Get Around remains a signature track to raise the heart-rate and there’s nothing that really competes with it here. But I’m glad Dragonette is back and I shall see how Bodyparts, er… grows on me. RC