Five Songs of the Disco Revival

Scott Wallace
29th Jun 2017

The vibe has been in the air for around a decade now, with artists like Metro Area, Hercules & Love Affair and Daft Punk carrying the torch, but in 2017 it really feels like disco is coming back. In the world of fashion, the 70s are well-and-truly returning, so surely it's inevitable that thumping kick drums, pulsating bass, syncopated high hats, luscious strings, and jubilant horns would be gracing the airwaves once again. If hedonism is your thing, be sure to add these five (and any other disco deep cuts you can find) to your next party playlist.

Amelia Airhorn - "NY is Red Hot"

Opening with the sound of New York City traffic and the chant that will form its chorus, production team Amelia Airhorn bring disco crashing into the 21st Century. The bass may be thicker and the kick drums may hit harder, but when the horns usher you onto the dancefloor, it couldn't be anything but disco. There is a looseness and an uninhibited joy to "NY is Red Hot" that separates it from other current dance music and it reaches fever pitch in the falsetto call-and-response vocals that bring it to a triumphant end.

The Black Madonna - "He is the Voice I Hear"

On this new track, The Black Madonna captures the underground side of classic disco - not the glossy and radio-friendly fare, but the strange, enchanting rhythms of outsider artists like the late Arthur Russell. The ten-and-a-half minute composition starts with liquid, jazz-influenced piano, but around a minute in staccato strings snap to attention. From there, "He is the Voice I Hear" is a disco odyssey with crisp hand claps, percolating "I Feel Love" synth bass, and tumbling piano leads - all of it in service of the rhythm.

Jens Lekman - "How We Met, the Long Version"

Wry Swede Jens Lekman's latest album is riddled with disco signifiers, but it's the time-lapse history of the world "How We Met, the Long Version" that will get feet shuffling. Taking pride in its canned sound, the song swings between squelchy guitar and tinny horns that sound caked in layers of dust, and pristine strings that echo moments of real vulnerability from the love-struck singer. In the end, it's earnestness that wins, and the only thing to do is just hand yourself over to this unstoppable beat. 

Parcels - "Overnight."

Produced by Daft Punk and sounding like a sequel to that wily French duo's 2013 classic "Get Lucky," this new track from Berlin via Byron Bay band Parcels is smooth, sultry and irresistible. Springy funk guitar rubs up against mellow electric piano and shimmering synth, like the aural equivalent of silk against skin. Understated verses melt into the rhythmic harmonies of the chorus with unbelievable ease, while 8th-note percussion and a restless bassline keep things moving towards the dawn. 

Washed Out - "Hard to Say Goodbye"

Portland, Oregon artist Washed Out has had an odd relationship with dance music since he emerged as one of the originators of the short-lived "chillwave" fad, but it looks like on his upcoming album Mister Mellow (out tomorrow June 30th) he's found a way to channel his ear for luxurious sounds into sharply rhythmic neo-disco. It may not be a coincidence that "Hard to Say Goodbye" echoes in its title the name of another disco classic; it's got Washed Out's signature haze, but to wordless falsetto vocals and smattering of strings are like the Ghost of Discos Past.