Like every other band, Miami Horror yearns to be unique; to stray from the pack and stamp something on the dance floor they can call their own. Such aspirations are necessary in a market that is saturated with indie-electronic outfits, where the hottest dance track one week is next weeks mouldy sandwich. After years of tasty remixes, Illumination is Miami Horror’s long awaited debut album, and proves that the Melbourne outfit is here to stay…long after you’ve been kicked out for accidentally disco-punching someone in the face whilst under their spell.
Frontman/creator Ben Plant believes he’s on to something when he says their sound is a fusion of “disco influenced prog-pop”, a sound that evolved as he enlisted more and more members for the band’s live component. If you’ve not yet been converted, you soon will be, because Illumination’s pop-filled songs are such that they’ll soon be unavoidable; on the radio, in a club, in the 7-11…you won’t be able to dodge them if you try. Why? Because the band has produced something that is otherwise coming exclusively out of America or France, and, as is the Aussie tendency, we’ll champion anything we can lay claim to. Especially since the band embraces (instead of running away from) their Australian drawl in songs like “Ultraviolet”.
Illumination is a great dance album because it’s not grating like so much music that comes from this genre. From a first listen you can hear that the band avoided producing an LP until their sound matched their experience and surrounding hype, and the end result is an album that reaches beyond the usual ephemera coming from this corner of the music industry. The easiest way to imagine it is if MGMT got together with Midnight Juggernauts, cheated with The Presets and spat out Miami Horror as the illegitimate love child. But with Illumination, the union is totally legitimised.
It begins simply enough with “Infinite Canyons”, a slow synth based number that eases us into the album with an expansive soundscape. From there the band launches into retro disco territory, with songs “I Look To You” and “Holidays” that sound like they came from Stevie Wonder lost tapes. With “Summer Sun” and “Sometimes” they produce that Australian disco flavour we’ve heard before - songs that aren’t exactly a strong presence on the album but are above average fillers all the same. The next song “Moon Theory” showcases the band at their best, a song with a catchy chorus and multileveled production. Songs like this one, as well as “Soft Light” and “Ultraviolet” are distinct because they’re when Ben Plant and co. take the gloves off and show us what Miami Horror does best; produce catchy dance songs that have enough emotional integrity to be enjoyed beyond the scene their usually confined to. The marriage of acoustic guitar, synth melodies and Damon Albarn (Gorillaz) like vocals gives the band a sophisticated sound that will assure they blossom into a staple radio/bedroom favourite.
Illumination can be best enjoyed with friends or by your lonesome, and that’s what I think separates albums like this from the rest of the bunch. Dance music generally enters the commercial sphere to be heard in clubs, festivals and on the radio, and if it goes beyond this to be a good companion in other situations then half its battle for success is won. Miami Horror’s debut has got it all; the retro element, the tugging at heart-strings element as well as catchiness that will ensure its longevity and be pushed close to the top of your playlist – whatever the occasion.
Highlights :: Listen to “Soft Light” and you’ll know what Miami Horror are all about.
You can check out a stream of their new album 'Illumination' below before you jump onto iTunes to buy it HERE!