Night Club
Gato Blanco

Los Angeles duo Night Club make catchy, darker tinged electropop with a slightly tongue-in-cheek vibe, music that reads as being appropriate for goth club dancefloors, but not so steeped in that setting that it can’t work for broader electronic music fans. Indeed, the band’s first official LP was the soundtrack to shortlived adult animation series Moonbeam City, with that record’s synthwave template honed on each album since. New album Masochist continues that arc, with some of the sharper pop songwriting, production and lyrical hooks they’ve released to date.

The success of a formula like Night Club’s is largely dependent on how well a band can walk the line between keeping things light and accessible, and not losing the edge that separates it from mainstream electronic pop. It’s something that Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks have always been good at, as with tracks like opener “Gone”, featuring an unexpected guest turn from Tool’s Maynard James Keenan. It cleverly balances some busy, acid-touched synthwork with melodramatic piano stabs and big choral moves on its chorus, big and gothic but supported by a stiff kick drum pattern that keeps it firmly clubbable. The transition into the archly delivered “Barbed Wire Kiss” is perfect, Kavanaugh shifting into a coy posture that suits the call and response vocal sections that fill out the effectively minimal arrangement of bass and straightforward drum programming.

Most importantly, the record has hooks and Night Club keeps them front and center. There’s not much to remember on tracks like “Crime Scene” beyond Kavanaugh’s belted chorus and punchline delivery of the titular lyric, but it’s strong enough to support a full-on clap and stomp breakdown in the song’s back half. The melodies are sticky, the beats are danceable and the sexy-psycho schtick is more often cute than cloying. In fact, the only real boring moments on the record are the ones where that formula gets out of wack; closer “Black December” is too light to support its elegiac lyrics, and if forced to choose between the staid if funky “Another Side of You” and the full-on Kylie Minogue jack of “Fatal Crush”, the latter is by far more appealing.

The fact that the band covers Funboy 3’s classic exotica by way of a Halloween sound effects record single “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)” is a pretty perfect summation of their whole deal; fun, spooky, and easy to hum after a listen or two. Considering how many scene acts absorb the broad stylistic moves of pop music without ever managing to write a melody worth remembering, that’s not nothing; Night Club know what they’re doing, and how to do it without overdoing it.

Buy it.