The first time I heard the word discothèque was in sixth-grade French class, spoken by the mademoiselle teacher who looked like Laura Palmer's mother and wore knee-high, zip-up leather boots that made her look both skanky and elegant. The word also seemed to have those same qualities. It was synaesthetic, sounding like pungent cologne, the spice-flecked smoke from hand-rolled cigarettes and illuminated floor tiles à la Saturday Night Fever.
Hercules and Love Affair's Blue Songs is the flowering of the word discothèque, the stringing of it across 57 minutes. Contributors Antony Hegarty, producer (and DFA co-owner) Tim Goldsworthy and !!! bassist Tyler Pope are gone now, and the new HaLA is less dance-punk cabaret, more Ibiza bacchanalia. It's an album of danceable, arch queerness. "My House" is prefab drag performance, all robotic fly-buzz and eye shadow; "Leonora" is the Pet Shop Boys having after-hours drinks in Kirby's Dream Land.
Blue Songs could strike some as unfashionably retro in how thoroughly it conjures early-'90s house. It's often intentionally cheesy, but dynamic. "I Can't Wait" is propulsive and delightfully snotty. The hook on "Visitor"—maybe the album's best track—is irresistible. "No time to sleep, it's time to bump" a bored but lusty voice says. A frenetic vocal loop of a deep-voiced man moans, "oh." An entire lifestyle speeds by in a blur. Outdated ideas of queer—like from John Rechy novels—fizzle and dissolve in Red Bull vodkas. It's delicious.