Midnight Album Spotlight: Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

From the first notes of this brand new icy-warm dance album out of New York City, Hercules and Love Affair stand out with emotional vocals and lyrics. The lyrics seem to me to be a blend of old jazz flavor (songs from Nina Simone or Ella) and the best of modern anthem pop lyrics.

Here is a vid of the song “Blind”. Follow along with the lyrics below…if you are so inclined. Smart, poetic, emotional, real. This kind of record doesn’t come along every day.

As a child, I knew
That the stars could only get brighter
And we would get closer
Get closer
Oooooh
As a child, I knew
That the stars could only get brighter
That we would get closer
Get closer
Leaving this darkness
Behind
Mmmm-mmmm
Oooooooh
Now that I’m older
The stars should lie upon my face
When I find myself alone
Find myself alone
Oooooh
Now that I’m older
The stars should lie upon my face
And when I find myself alone
I feel like I
I am blind
Feel it
Feel it
Feel it
Feel it
Like I am blind
I am blind
I wish the stars could shine now
For they are closer
They are near
But they will not present my present
They will not present my present
I wish the light could shine now
For it is closer
It is near
But it will not present my present
It makes my past and future painfully clear
To hear you now
To see you now
I can look outside myself
And I must examine my breath and look inside
Ooooooh
To see you now
To hear you now
I can look outside myself
And I must examine my breath and look inside
Because I feel blind
Because I feel blind

Now, it is my theory that only 75% of music listeners actually pay close attention to lyrics. I am one of the 25% who hear lyrics deeply. I can’t ignore them. This listening is a blessing or a curse, depending on the words.

Dance music is usually not the place to find the most personal or wise lyrics, but Hercules and Love Affair’s self-titled debut is an exception. It can rock a club, but it also rocks my heart and brain. The words give me something to feel and think about. The vocalists take this further, combining styles of soul, r&b and jazz. They open up and really give it.

I’m a big proponent of sincerity. And after years of hearing bands, I can detect a phoned-in performance in just a few notes. In everything we do, sincerity is the thing that creates integrity. In an age of copycats, the only thing that makes art ART is originality. Each one of us is so different, and it is the artists who really show their insides that have true power. It’s nature that is interesting. More interesting than any front.

Hercules and Love Affair’s lineup starts with Andrew Butler (the DJ, producer, songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist that is the heart of this project), vocalist Antony Hegarty (from Antony and The Johnsons) and stellar female singers Nomi Ruiz and Kim Ann Foxmann. This project obviously puts the vocals at top priority. Personality and character drive this dance album, these beats, these moves.

Butler told Fact Magazine this about the record: “I always say it’s a rhythmic, artsy kind of pop music that was made with classic dance and electronic music in mind. It has a lot of vocals and is rooted in my childhood.”

Not only do I love this record because it’s wise and circulatory, but it’s also soooo European, as evidenced by the fact that it’s topping charts in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Ireland, Spain and the UK.

The song “Raise Me Up” echoes where I am in my life right now. A few years ago I cleaned house and got rid of “friends” who would put me down in one way or another. Some were competitive, some were negative, some were just depressed, but for whatever reason all of them wanted to take me down a notch.

I’ve since learned that you can tell a good friend by the fact that they are happy when good things happen to you. They lift you up, encouraging and supporting you, and they never, ever tear you down. This song “Raise Me Up” is dedicated to my friends who always do just that. I’m really lucky to have so many people who give me faith in the human race: Julia, Meredith, Miska, The President, Mari, Kimbrough, James, Tyron and Susan.

This song’s for you guys, and don’t forget to shake it.

Join Michele Myers for Nite Life every Friday Night at 9pm. This Friday at 12 she’ll do this Midnight Album Spotlight, playing 3 songs from the album and telling this story. She also produces KEXP Documentaries — short radio features. KEXP Documentaries series include: Punk Evolution, Masters of Turntablism, The Heart of Soul, Music Revolutionaries and Death, Drugs and Rock n Roll.

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2 Comments

  1. AMY
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I agree with your comments on the importance of lyrics…look at a song like The Knife’s “Heartbeats”…

  2. J-P
    Posted January 3, 2009 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    “Blind” is a great track. I actually heard it in a Charlotte Russe store in an outlet mall — not the place I expect to discover good tunes. I actually told my wife we couldn’t leave until I heard the refrain, then came home and googled the bits of lyrics i could remember, and found it here. Reminds me of Erlend Oye, Bran Van 3000 “Astounded”, Calvin Harris, Telepopmusik… thanks for posting it.

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