Poni Hoax Images of Sigrid

[Tigersushi; 2008]

Styles: anthemic disco, electro-pop, post-punk
Others: Giorgio Moroder, Crystal Castles, The Smiths

I am still convinced that Poni Hoax’s self-titled album from 2006 was one of the most cruelly ignored releases of that year. Single “Budapest” remains one of this decade’s very best songs. Ever since, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this new disc, Images of Sigrid, especially after hearing single “Antibodies” a few months ago: it’s coiled with the same dark, bewitching energy that propelled their earlier stuff forward. What’s more, I’ve been counting on this French quintet to bring a properly Gallic sense of irony and swagger to a disco scene that has, in my opinion, become far too canonical of late (see: Hercules and Love Affair).

Poni Hoax have delivered. In the first five songs alone, you’ve got enough murk and melodrama to power a month’s worth of ’80s nights, from their glam-jacketed debuts to their gloomy sexual finales. The album seems to chronicle an anguished descent towards suicide, or perhaps an AIDS-related death. “Antibodies” is beautifully produced and well-chosen as the single, an endless climax that accretes hooks and effects until it becomes a throbbing, unstoppable botfuck. The crazy thing is that they try to top this in the next two songs, adding more guitars, choruses shouted by choirs, and somehow always finding room to cast fistful of sequined synth tone overtop. And it works.

Less convincing are their forays into more straightforward post-punk (“Crash-Pad Driver”), which sound 5 years late, instead of 25 or 35, and their lackluster ballads, (“You of the Broken Hands,” “Faces in the Water”), which simply fall flat when compared to the endorphin baths of their dance anthems. They successfully split the difference, however, with “My Own Private Vietnam,” an imbalanced, tilt-a-whirl of polyrhythm and detuned instruments that would make Timabaland and The Neptunes jealous.

Like the self-titled debut, Images of Sigrid transcends its weaker moments with a clutch of irrepressibly great songs, ones in touch with a muse more macabre and seductive than those that most of their contemporaries are channeling. Don’t miss this second chance to witness the spectacle.

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