Four years since their inception, Chicago quintet Chandeliers chose to make their second full-length a compilation of practice tape fragments and outtakes. Most of the 33 tracks on Dirty Moves clock in under 90 seconds, and tend to contain a single motif, the building blocks of Chandeliers’ people-movers laid bare. The kitchen sink approach makes for a varied affair, with music of differing style, fidelity and quality presented in easy to digest sample-sized bits. Chandeliers subvert the tradition of the dance mix by providing all of the tracks themselves, but Dirty Moves isn’t the party on a platter one might hope.
It’s an odd move, following up a well-received debut with an album of material that, in conventional situations, might be saved for later (or never see the light of day at all). Assuming that Dirty Moves isn’t a tossed off batch of half-baked ideas and leftovers (hopefully Chandeliers haven’t been around long enough to be that cynical and/or brazen), the question of its purpose still looms large. The disc could be a purposeful circumvention of the sophomore jinx, a morsel to satiate the masses while a masterpiece simmers, or a bit of archival curation gone public. Regardless, it sets loose some sounds that might’ve been better put out to pasture, and manages to be a disc that appears at war with itself. As a demonstration of Chandeliers skill in the emulation and augmentation of existing styles and traditions, the album largely provides fragments out of context, melodic or rhythmic chunks that rarely change gears or go through any transition save for a quick fade into the next track. In its encouragement of shaking booties and dancing feet, Dirty Moves interrupts its own momentum so often that there are few grooves that don’t require an almost immediate exit. The band’s ability to traverse diverse branches of electronic music, usually a strength, crafts a series of speed bumps when presented in such rapid-fire fashion. The ability to serve up disjointed goofball stomp, emulation of vintage electro jams, and ethereal new age chill in quick succession speaks to Chandeliers’ versatility, but it muddies the waters on this disc.
Dirty Moves‘ wide range provides at least a sliver of enjoyment to all sorts of listeners. One might hate the handclaps and 1980s atavism of “Circulation,” and find solace in the lo-fi exotica of “In the Octagon.” For some, the glitchy, jazzy “Taste of Cherry” may be the salve for the monochromatic swirl of “Color Motion.” But whatever Chandeliers are shilling on Dirty Moves, we can only hope something completely different is around the corner.