Some genres have a pretty short shelf life. Indie music has this problem, but far more forgettable is straightforward dance music. Barring Donna Summers, Skrillex, and a few others, straight up club-friendly dance music produces few household names, and the music tends to be buried after less than a decade. EDM is the first dance genre I can remember, and I don’t think I’ve heard a single thing from the breakout genres of the 2010s for 8 years.
So, today I’d like to introduce you to one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved dance albums of the 2000’s which I, and likely you, had never heard of, “Hercules and Love Affair.” The eponymous band, if you can’t tell from the name, works in some of the gayest styles of dance known to mankind, namely house and nu-disco, but they stand out for a heavy emphasis on songwriting. The beats are as immaculate as the words, and the singing is… well let’s talk about the singing.
Hercules and Love Affair, like many dance acts, is one guy, Andy Butler, with a rotating cast of supporting musicians. Butler is a talented songwriter, both in the musical sense of constructing melodies and structures, and in the lyrical sense. This talent means he was able to pull some of the best singers in indie, namely baroque pop singer Anhoni, another name that’s been slightly obscured. Anhoni started as a collaborator with Lou Reed and Bjork, before fronting her own band, Antony and the Johnson’s. She’s a solid songwriter as well, but her voice is untouchable, and combined with the music on “Hercules and Love Affair,” she has an emotional power that is near transcendent.
If you only have time to listen to one song off this album, the choice is clear. “Blind,” was a dance hit in multiple countries, and despite being virtually forgotten now, ranked in the top five songs of 2008 in the majority of publications that year. The song is a pure example of what Hercules and Love Affair are about, it’s the kind of desperate and soul-searching party music that has taken over queer music lately, and Hercules and Love Affair do it better than anyone.