Just over a year ago I was sitting down in front of my computer after a long day of work intent on adding two new albums to my collection. It was a Friday night on the fringe of summer, and the warm weather outside was calling me away like a siren. Speakers in the windows, I blasted The Asteroid Galaxy Tour’s “Fruit” and “Out of Frequency” on random. To backtrack a bit: earlier that day my sister, Brittany had thrown the video for “Major” up on my Facebook timeline, and based on that track alone I was ready to devour everything in AGT’s catalogue (thanks, Britt). This funky duo was like a time capsule from the ’70s, deposited in the ground for posterity and unearthed for the kids of the ’90s at a time when all retro musical forms had blended into something entirely new. Not only was I immediately hooked, throwing every track into a very selective drove that comprised my running playlist, my entire family was grooving in the yard.
Now, I’ve identified them as a duo, but the truth is that they’ve been a collaborative five-piece since the supporting tour for their debut album “Fruit”. Having opened on tours for Katy Perry and the late Amy Winehouse, the band has enjoyed thorough exposure over the years, but their success and notoriety comes largely from the inclusion of their song Around the Bend in a 2008 commercial for the Apple iPod Touch. Founders Mette Lindberg and Lars Iversen, the mad scientists driving the band at its core, deserve the prosperity they’ve attained. Not only have they navigated the band through two solid albums, they’ve delivered on a third that builds upon the sound they cultivated and takes it to a level of electronic beauty that mixes so natively with their trademark funk that it truly feels like it came from another galaxy.
“Bring Us Together” launches with its title track, an introduction of rough piano, cheering voices and pounding drums. Lindberg’s heavily distorted vocals enter inaudible over swirling electric guitar. This track identifies the album right off the bat for what it is: a blending of ’70s funk and disco with electric alternative rock. It breaks down into a cyclonic orgy of instrumentals and noise as Lindberg’s distorted voice cries, “Bring us together” over and over.
The thumping bass line of Navigator returns the listener to the signature ’70s funk the band has honed over the years. Fast, light guitar plucking make me wish I had a damned disco ball. This track moves natively into the band’s first single, My Club. Trumpets play over a properly stimulated bass guitar as Lindberg spits fast lyrics, her voice soft and melodic, sexy and hypnotic. A swirling vortex of synth and sound works to overstimulate as the track reaches its end. It’s tight, poppy, catchy and engaging. The fact that I found it difficult to remain in my chair speaks to their decision to use it as the first release from the record.
Pounding drums, a staple of this group, enter with Hurricane over whistling synth. Horns draw in and out, rising and fading behind the ever-imposing vocal delivery of Mette Lindberg. Here we find tight arrangements with well-timed pacing and smooth composition. This track is pure ear candy. It dies off to a hum of synth before moving aside for Rock the Ride. An electronic whine starts this track off, calling like a transmission from the Asteroids Galaxy itself. Lindberg’s voice rings high over everything, tying the instrumentals together like only she can. At 4:11, this track feels too short for the thrill ride it offers.
X finishes the album with a dark and foreboding track reminiscent of Attack of the Ghost Riders from their debut record. Lindberg’s distant, reverberating voice sings softly over bass, tambourine and undulating synth. The beat picks up about a third of the way through as the siren-like synth encircles. Lindberg’s delivery intensifies with the instrumentals as liquid synth flows like a waterfall over bumping bass. She’s bringing it all here, crying out like a soul drowning within the music backing her with complete acceptance of her fate.
It’s not often a band delivers like this with their third effort. In my experience it’s quite the opposite, actually. Their peak usually comes with the sophomore record, leaving the third as something of the bastard child of a band intent on reinventing themselves with album four. This couldn’t be further from the truth with the Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s “Bring us Together”. As an album, it is the perfect marriage of ’70s funk and modern electric pop. Add to this Mette Lindberg’s unparalleled style and vocal range, and you’ve got something vastly different than any other offering on the digital music shelves today; a sound so unique that there is no definition for it other than “The Asteroids Galaxy Tour”.
I’m off to buy a disco ball.
“Bring us Together” — 8.5/10