The following review “The West – In Low Light” by Sean Jewell appeared in The Stranger on Mon. Apr. 22nd, 2013.
The West’s In Low Light opens with “It was Disco and it’s Over,” a song that’s built on a signature Peter Hook high-toned bass riff, complete with lead singer and guitarist Anthony Darnell doing his best Ian Curtis impression. During the song they play a Joy Division-esque eulogy to the death of disco resolving only to move ahead, like it’s the early ’80s and they’re back in Manchester.
Their EP moves on down the timeline of pop just so, synthesizing the rest of the ’80s in their own way. Their brand of nouveau-disco follows lead bass lines all the way down to club maximalist. The West slides into step somewhere between the saccharine sweet Roxette and the angrily romantic the Whip—their steely synths make them a freakishly dance-y band to have evolved in this region of the country, a notoriously dance-less, shoegaze-y Sodom of people who love to fuck with music but not be seen loving it in public. That may be the reason they’ve been noticed by blogeratti in Sweden, and France, and then over at KEXP before they got to me, but it may also be just because their sound (despite having been perfected decades ago) is so period unique.
When In Low Light starts to hit its stride—right after their awkwardly rock-pop single you may have heard on the 90.3 called “Slightest Touch”—Darnell is shouting out negatives on “You Won’t,” and sharing the microphone with synth player Adrienne Clark, who is allowed to go it alone late in the album on just one song “Call Me A Liar,” but provides an interesting relief when she does. Darnell, Clark, and bass player Jon Swihart encapsulate so much of the 80s they’re hard to not appreciate, and by the end of the album they’ve gone full swing from New Order to INXS, and Darnell is in a full on Michael Hutchence wail.
Heads will bob and hips will roll at their live shows, especially at the point when the set reaches their best song “Hustler.” With an absolutely evil bass line, vibrato guitar ringing in the back, roiling snare, and Darnell hollering at the hot thing next to him on the dance floor, I don’t care what era or city you’re from you’ll have to be dead or just plain dumb to not want to dance to In Low Light.