Phenomenal-Handclap-Band-Form-And-Control

The Phenomenal Handclap Band have dialled down the funk and turned up the proggy art-rock for a second album that splices those ‘70s genres with a wearying dose of adult contemporary, castrating its dancefloor potential in the process. The New York collective once toured with Bryan Ferry, which says it all, really. Ostentatious velvet-rope slickness suggests Roxy Music at their glossiest, yet at heart it’s all deeply repressed, even conservative. Oddly blank vocal efforts are duplicated in a creepy android choir (echoing of Ladytron) that’s totally sexless (and not in the good Ladytron way). There’s no doubt that TPHB is the project of two DJ minds tuned to the other side of the mixer and all about structure and sheen. It’s beautifully constructed but with little of the joie de vivre that fires up its retro source material.

By Chal Ravens