ALBUM REVIEW: Galaxians – Chemical Reaction | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Released: 26.06.20







Image by Tim Dunk

Since forming as a duo of Jed Skinner on keys and Matt Woodward on drums in 2012, Galaxians have become underground heroes in the UK: flitting between synthetic funk, elastic post-disco and smooth house moves, their sunny and energetic dance anthems have made them one of the most reliable party-starters on the live and festival circuit. At a time when we’re in need of good news, Galaxians have heeded their call, because their latest album Chemical Reaction is the bullet-proof hit of sunshine that 2020 has so sorely been lacking.

Where there’s been a change between albums one and two for the band is the role that vocalist Emma Mason plays in the band. On their debut Let The Rhythm In, she was a special guest who enjoyed some star turns (the dizzyingly catchy How Do U Feel for one) but more often than not faded beneath the waves of synths. Here however, she’s proudly front and centre of this far more pop-centric collection, and her dazzling voice and undeniable star power gives songs like Fight For Love and closer Heat Of The City a sharp precision alongside their sweaty summer evening euphorics.

This stronger sense of pop songwriting savvy brings Galaxians closer in liner with kindred spirits like Dam-Funk, Hercules & Love Affair or Roisin Murphy’s recent singles run (and with their mixture of 80s Madonna moves with extended, DJ-friendly grooves, it’s Murphy’s current work that is perhaps the best point of comparison for the uninitiated), but in many ways it’s the band’s intense understanding of their ancestors that lifts them far above the realms of imitation.

Be it the working class frustration of Not The Money or the female empowerment of Heartbreaker, Galaxians recognise the source of all those great disco and house records – in discrimination and oppression, in the struggle for gay rights and empowerment, in the hedonism and sub-cultural collectivism of the dancefloor. Without co-opting or overwriting the past, they take their place in a grand tradition, paying tribute by embodying this same dynamic of social reflection and escapism in their own music. The joy that Galaxians bring is hard-fought and steeped in reality: that’s what makes them such a delight.


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