(Prog Shock Productions, CD, digital download)
Burlington dance-pop outfit Rue Mevlana have been relatively quiet on the recording scene since releasing Synthetic Emotion in 2012. Save for some remixes, "The Rue Crew" — Nathan Jarvis, Marya Vallejos, Hannah Wall, Rebecca Wallace, Shelby Ferland and Allison Bannister — have largely left fans waiting. The wait is over. Earlier this month, the crew mounted a performance-art, cabaret-type show called Motley Rue — major props for that name, guys. The performance was set to songs from the band's new 12-track album, Pop Corn.
True to its name, Pop Corn sizzles and explodes with musical morsels. A patchwork of techno, disco, glam-pop and straight-up club music, Pop Corn is delicious ear candy for those who like their party tunes with a little less dubstep and a little more pop punch.
"Shooting Starlight" opens with crackling, glittering doses of synth. Delicate, sweet lyrics speak of "celestial feelings" between friends: "I close my eyes and jump through time / Just to find that you're still mine / Bound with strings that can't unwind / You're my lifeline."
Next up is the peppy disco tune "Freak Out Friday." The liberated, anthemic chorus is sure to get you in the TGIF spirit. Mischievous and cool, "That Girl Can Dance" plays like a late-night text conversation, with sassy, spoken-word lyrics set against a short, snappy beat.
"Elemental Love" briefly slows the pace. The track weaves two surprisingly well-matched instruments, violins and steel drum. It's a sugary, luxurious ditty. "Rush" turns a slightly darker corner. Sleepy, cooing vocals warn of speeding through life at the expense of living it: "We're in a world of a thousand rushes / and until it's the end of the world / I wonder what the rush is / it's gonna happen fast." The downturn is short-lived, as penultimate track "Secret Revolution" reintroduces head-bopping techno.
True to Rue Mevlana form, much of the album draws from late 1970s and early '80s glam-rock and pop influences. Bowie fans will groove to the spacey struts and androgynous vocals in "Butta Cake" and "Hermpahroditus." "We Rock Out 2 Queen" pays homage to one of the arena-rock gods' most iconic tunes with inspired chanting and this inarguable truth: "When it comes to looking fine / Mercury is master."
Yet contemporary voices also filter in. Daft Punk devotees will applaud the layered instrumentals, while lovers of female electro artists such as Marina and the Diamonds or Robyn will dig the leading-lady vocals.
Rue Mevlana's take on electro is synth-heavy and sparkling, and their latest effort delivers on earlier foundations. Energetic, quirky and pulsing, Pop Corn is sure to liven up your fall music rotation.
Pop Corn by Rue Mevlana is available at ruemevlana.bandcamp.com.