If you’re looking for an album that stresses the importance of lyrical narrative and storytelling, keep shuffling. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an album to move to, tunes that are catchy and feel good, look no further. Luxxury’s latest release, Set Me Free (2020), is a dancefloor-ready EP that comes swiftly on the heels of their previous release, It’s Not Funny (2019). Despite the fact that Luxxury tours with a band, it’s difficult to see these tunes in any context other than a DJ spinning a mix of classic disco, synth-pop, and uptempo funk in the back of a club, which speaks to its purpose: this music is meant for dancing.
There’s no doubt that the EP hearkens back to a time known as the 70’s when disco and flair were all the rage. However, there’s something distinctly 21st century about it as well. Maybe it’s the fact that being ‘retro’ is a 21st century style in itself. It could also be how the few but choice words float over the moody electric pianos, four-on-the-floor kick drum and thumping bass lines. Like much popular dance music, the repetition of catch phrases, like “what are we gonna do” on the track “What Are We Gonna Do,” seem almost a formality, something for the listener to grab hold of. While that is a necessary function, they also create atmosphere the songs would otherwise lack. The atmosphere created, not just by the vocals but by the songs as whole compositions, is one that caters to the listener’s escape. Like a mantra, the beats and vocals echo the listener into a trance.
As far as dance music goes, Luxxury is good at replicating tropes that have existed since disco set the dancefloor on fire. The drums are defined by the pulse of the kick drum, the roomy claps, and the upbeat high hats driving everything along. They fashion a sonic grid with subtle subdivisions, a literal guide for the dancer in their movements. The slow triplets in the bass line of “Our Love Is Real” are built according to this grid, as is the remainder of the instrumentation, to the extent that all elements are in service of the song’s forward-movement. Set Me Free’s design features airy synths you might hear in a space-themed hotel lobby, and a funky bass reminiscent of that new Tame Impala sound from Currents. The result is a well-produced, engrossing sound that, for all its talent and intelligence, doesn’t challenge the listener.
More than anything, Luxxury’s Set Me Free is the latest installment of a running gimmick: the innovations of the beginnings of dance music remixed from a 2020 perspective, and it meets this expectation. But these songs are not meant for analysis, they are meant for feeling good, and that they do.