Pleasure by Le Galaxie review: fresh sound makes this a game-changer
Conway’s pub opposite the Rotunda Hospital is yet another sorely missed Dublin watering hole. Its interior featured prominently in the classic movie adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s The Snapper, and it also housed a tiny upstairs venue called the Boom Boom Room. Dublin electronic pop band Le Galaxie performed their first show here in 2008, which by their own admission in this newspaper was an absolute shambles.
Le Galaxie have had an eventful first decade. Pleasure will be released through independent Los Angeles label Red River following a stint with major label Universal, but the really big news is a seismic line-up change: Le Galaxie have enlisted the services Mary Kate Geraghty, better known as former Fight Like Apes singer MayKay.
Sometimes, a new member is exactly the fresh impetus a band needs. When Mani joined Primal Scream after the Stone Roses split, Bobby Gillespie hailed signing the bassist as “the best free transfer in rock history”. Gillespie had a point, as it dramatically lifted his band out of a flat-lining career and drug-induced inertia. Le Galaxie have also done a game-changing piece of business and they’re a much better band as a result.
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The opening title track and lead single Pleasure brilliantly introduces their new-found potency. Now, they essentially have both a frontman and a frontwoman. MayKay brings an enormous amount to the table and she also co-writes with her new band. Up until now, Le Galaxie have been solid and consistent, but rarely dazzling. They’ve been tipping away as a decent Irish band with one or two bangers in their repertoire, but little on record to match the energy and euphoria of their live shows.
MayKay sings virtually all of the terrific Day of the Child, which boasts a catchy arrangement and meaty synth hooks. The London-based Swedish producer Johan Blende helps hone and redefine Le Galaxie’s rave pop sound, channelling it in a more focused and coherent manner. Can’t Stand It sees Pope indulge in a playful robotic vocal reminiscent of Chicago house show-man Green Velvet. Their success to date is built on the simple but effective premise of delivering one helluva good night out. They’re well known for distributing glow sticks at gigs and festivals, not taking themselves too seriously, and playing a barnstormer of a show at the Body & Soul stage at Electric Picnic in 2013 that many believe to be one of the best ever seen at Stradbally.
They’re clearly influenced by the points where pop and electronica collide. L.I.E, which stands for love, intelligence and ecstasy, tips its hat to the Shamen, while Lock that Heart Down features elements that wouldn’t be out of place in an Underworld song. The sole blip is Demi Moore, a piano house-based track that repeats her name over and over again. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is a bit of a filler. However, Le Galaxie beautifully kick it back into touch and go out on a delicious high with The Lockdown.
Le Galaxie deserve credit for adding to the rather paltry catalogue of quality Irish electronic pop music, even though we’ve a burgeoning and brilliant electronica scene well worth writing home about. Apart from a handful of acts such as Elaine Mai (who previously collaborated with Le Galaxie), Roísín Murphy and Jape, catchy electronic pop gets precious little traction in a music scene still very much in thrall to generic singer-songwriters and the traditional rock band.
In joining forces with MayKay, Le Galaxie are perfectly primed up for the summer festival circuit. They’ve given their career a dramatic shot in the arm in the process, as Pleasure features some of the most accomplished fruits of their first decade.