Upon first hearing about them, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Music Go Music’s name implies a level of goofy ironic detachment. Further investigation into the band will lead you to speculation that some of the members of Music Go Music are also in Bodies of Water, but have requested that they remain anonymous in the former band. Now we’ve added elements of gimmicky intrigue. Actually, we have unsustainable gimmicky intrigue, because it’s highly unlikely that members of a fairly popular indie rock act can form another band without anyone noticing. Given these two pieces of information, you’d be right to be suspicious of Music Go Music‘s intentions.
Fortunately, the reality on at least one of those slightly dubious fronts is not as bad as it may seem. That is to say, the band name actually seems sort of sincere. The songs on their debut album, Expressions, are imbued with an obviously legitimate exuberance and are played with the sort of technical skill that doesn’t just happen to people with a passing interest in music making. Additionally, the name Music Go Music may very well be an indirect acknowledgement of the band’s tendency to genre-hop. While disco does occupy the majority of Music Go Music’s attention, the band seems too full of energy to keep focused on one style for too long. There is a wide range of pop on display here, be it the retro girl groups sounds of the ’60s (“Light of Love”) or the winding, progressive arena rock epics of the ’70s (“Reach Out”).
While the diversity is certainly admirable, this shouldn’t be read as a ringing endorsement. There is plenty here that doesn’t entirely work, spanning from minor details (the screechy intro that begins the album on “I Walk Alone”) to full songs that too wholly embrace the cheese that they tastefully touch upon elsewhere. I’m mainly referring to closing track “Goodbye, Everybody” which is soft rock at its most cringe-worthy. In fact, picture “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” but without the gigantic climactic chorus to make the verses worthwhile, and you’re somewhere near the boring cheese of “Goodbye, Everybody.” But mostly, the it’s the small stuff that gets Music Go Music in trouble, like the indulgent and ostentatious keys solo on the instrumental bridge of the otherwise highly enjoyable “Thousand Crazy Nights.”
Music Go Music’s clearest strengths are visible on “Warm in the Shadows,” even if the song really does test the listener’s patience by the end of its nine-minute running length. When the band fully embraces their affinity for disco, they demonstrate an apparent knack for instrumental communication. Guitars and keys enter and drop at well calibrated moments and lead singer Gala Bell goes full Debbie Harry: equal parts heartbroken sincerity and effortless cool.
Generally though, Expressions‘ main innovation, if it has one, is rehashing time-tested pop formulas and invigorating them with a more frantic modern style. Nearly every song here, regardless of which stylistic pool Music Go Music are cannon-balling into at the moment, push their respective genre to almost cartoonish levels of immediacy. While they may occasionally go overboard, it’s certainly a rush to enjoy the many moments when they get it right.