THINK ABOUT LIFE – Family (2009)

Think About Life - Family With Family, Think About Life just might have created the weirdest, most consistently restless and strangely wonderful (anti)dance album of the year. And I mean that as a compliment as much as any one person can; Family is chock full of groove and snarling rhythm, but instead of it being relaxed and sensual, it’s angular and agitated. If TV on the Radio took a bunch of uppers and then went out to play a Motown cover set at the local dive bar, it would probably sound something like this: trashed, mad and sublime. All of this is even harder to wrap one’s around given that Think About Life’s eponymous 2006 debut is such a thoroughly different album, sounding more like a fuzzed-out, reclusive twin of The Faint than a disco/funk fever dream; Think About Life was focused, heart and mind, on the fringes of the dance floor, but Family is violently in love with the feet below and the lights above.

Considering the overabundance of energy present here, it’s should come as no surprise that Family is at its best when it’s going for broke, treating all restraints as something best dealt with while hungover the next morning. And since most of the album runneth over with such a gleeful lack of moderation, it’s hard not to love. The album only really ever loses momentum in two songs, Sweet Sixteen and The Veldt (a song which, despite stealing the “you-can’t-not-love-it” melody of My Girl, still falls flat). These songs are alright by themselves, but taken in the context of the rest of the album, they seem dreadfully out of place – when an album is as unabashedly drunk on the bliss and glory of all incarnations of dance music (new and old) as Family is, opting to take a trek out to the dance floor sober here and there isn’t a smart move.

Family is an album that was destined from its inception to be fiercely divisive; it’s equally likely to be a wondrous event of musical harmonic convergence for some and a complete turn-off for others. If you’d love to hear the texture and atmosphere of Cut Copy, the refined beauty of Hercules and Love Affair, the jittery spasms of Girl Talk and the cerebral funkiness of !!! all rolled into one compact, hyperwound release, well, Family will make your dreams come true. But if you’d rather take in those bands separately, you’d best keep moving. This party’s not for you.

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