Sometimes you don’t realise how much you miss a certain sound until you feel it burning a hole through your eardrums. That’s a pretty accurate depiction of what happened when I took a spin of the long-awaited debut from Classixx, an LA production duo who have been teasing fans with remixes for well over four years. Perhaps one of the earliest pioneers of what I like to term the new wave future disco sound that would soon become the core offering for many international and Australian artists, including Flight Facilities, Softwar and Bag Raiders (incidentally now living Los Angeles), Classixx made themselves known by being tasteful. That’s harder than it looks; given that most electronic (nay, pop) music has gravitated towards massive lashings of bass or highly optimised, robotic treble, trying to get ahead by being classy is a tricky proposition. That said, it worked for Mayer Hawthorne, the blue-eyed soul singer who was one of the earliest to receive both production and remix treatment from the pair. But the ever-present danger was that Classixx could become an American Aeroplane, famed for DJ sets and reworks but never for anything of their own. Yes, Vito put out a record a few years ago, but his core crowd come for his mixtapes. That’s why Classixx’s Hanging Gardens, set to drop imminently, is a good thing. It proves that they can walk the walk as well as they [insert excellent cliche here].
As far as debut albums go, Classixx took a while to get their act together. The last time I heard something that wasn’t a remix from their camp, Lady Gaga had only just started her career. Cueing up Hanging Gardens, however, it didn’t take long for ‘All You’re Waiting For’ to pique my interest. That would make sense, given that it’s arguably the best song on an album full of them, and that it features one of my favourite, most underrated indie-rock singers of all time. Nancy Whang, for those who don’t read the liner notes, is pretty much a demigod. She’s a major player in the DFA family, having been a member of both The Juan Maclean and the original disco purists, LCD Soundsystem. Though not as prominent as James Murphy, her finger are all over some of the band’s greatest hits, and you can hear her sensibility translated seamlessly onto this track. While glossier than some of the LCD material, it’s nonetheless got her trademark deadpan delivery over thumping, shape-shifting synth lines. I can see why the Classixx boys called on Whang, she pretty much reeks of cool. I feel like if you walked into a bar in some New York and heard her voice wafting out of the speakers, you’d know you were in the right place.
But this isn’t just Nancy we’re talking about. It’s also about the writing from Michael Daivd and Tyler Blake, which recalls the delicious Sign O’ The Times grooves of Prince mixed with the sass of the B-52s. Everything is shiny, but it also does the job. From the way those gooey keyboards bounce off the beat before melding into the other parts to the pitch-bends and hi-hat sounds, they’ve done some serious work here. It would have been so easy to push out a bass line that sits on root notes and follows the progression, but instead we get a hanging, syncopated riff that doesn’t even start even start on beat 1 half the time. Classixx have obviously taken in and learned from the combined experience of their peers, because they’ve come out with a track that is a collection of multiple harmonic inspirations, rather than just a killer hook and a half-decent vocal. This is such a jam, I cannot even tell you. The chorus alone will ride me out of winter. I’m so glad we get to have it here first, because we’re probably the only guys who’ll notice the marimbas chiming out in the outro.
Classixx ft. Nancy Whang – ‘All You’re Waiting For’ [World Premiere]