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8 out of 10
Like all the best bands from Liverpool, Wave Machines have done it their own way. There's no need for Beatles, La's or Coral comparisons here, because the masked four-piece don't sound like them, but they do capture the city's riotous nightlife and hotchpotch landscape as well as anyone. Perhaps unsurprising, when you learn that they recorded this collection of lo-fi, slow-burning odd disco in St Brides Church, with a view of the Mersey and both cathedrals.
Previous single 'I Go I Go I Go' and second track 'Carry Me Back To My House' are the songs that could give Wave Machines a summer hit - the former all springy and La Roux-80s revival; the latter starry-eyed 'Hot Fuss' indie-disco with Royal Albert Hall-bound choruses. But it's elsewhere that 'Wave If You're Really There' reveals its hidden charms and nervous ticks, like 'The Warning' by Hot Chip or Friendly Fires' self-titled debut, this is an dance record full of idiosyncrasies and a lot of heart.
There's 'You Say The Stupidest Things' and its plinky-plonky keys and hazy organ; the soulful 'Greatest Escape We Ever Made'; and 'Keep The Lights On's' bass-heavy glittery funk, with singer Tim Bruzon sounding like Scissor Sister's Jake Shears; or 'The Line' - a playful update on 'You Can Call Me Al'. They'll make you dance, but it's when Wave Machines slow down that they really move you.
'Punk Spirit' is an Americana anthem out of nowhere, like something Jason Lytle or Stephen Malkmus could write, with killer lines like, "Later when you left the room/I whispered, 'You can fucking die.'" Vidar Norheim's marching band drums come from his time doing Norwegian national service, but 'Punk Spirit' is regal. What they really get, though, is that often the best dance music is about heartbreak, melancholy and loneliness - like Grace's 'Not Over Yet' - and on the title track and the closer, 'Dead Houses', Wave Machines stun and move. 'Wave If You're Really There' is sunburnt extended synth drones, deep squelch and - in the title - a heartfelt cry for interaction. While 'Dead Houses', about the hundreds of abandoned houses and "faded glories" in Liverpool is so simple - just a buzz, rattling drums, claps and great harmonies. It's one of the best songs about the city and on its own shows that Liverpool's still a capital of (sub) culture.
1. You Say The Stupidest Things
2. Carry Me Back To My House
3. I Go I Go I Go
4. Keep The Lights On
5. Punk Spirit
6. The Greatest Escape We Ever Made
7. Wave If You're Really There
8. I Joined A Union
9. The Line
10. Dead Houses