Album Review: Apollo Cobra – Motherland
By now, if Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” really did exist, I think it’d probably be ruined by brochures, gift shops, and trash left behind by his readers. In the world of music, sensing similar kinds of irony can be a golden opportunity to create something fresh and with their new album, Motherland, Apollo Cobra has managed to do just that: avoid the clustered frenzy to the ultramodern by reminding us just how great unabashed, barefaced dance music can be.
Built by the arguably trite dance grooves and tones of 80’s funk and disco, the sound of Motherland runs pretty close to their previous release, Dance to This. With its steady bass pulsations and sweeping synth leads, Apollo Cobra demonstrates a similar sound to that of Daft Punk with the same bluntly sexual energy of Chromeo and Of Montreal.
Vocally, Motherland shows some bravery as well as proficiency. Dylan Nau and Aaron Stoehr drench their well-controlled voices in phasers and other such effects, but still manage to do so in a tasteful way. All effects used in the album are compatible with its overall sound and come together to form a well-constructed, autonomous product.
If I had to pick a favorite, the first track, “Feel Like It,” is as shameless yet lovable as Motherland gets. It incorporates a simple, steady beat under a catchy chorus, flamboyant saxophone solo, and grooving electric piano tone to make what is probably the album’s best song.
Be it a good thing or a bad thing, I can’t help but think that this is the only sound that Apollo Cobra is capable of making. One track on this album, “Pissed,” is a clear attempt to make something associative to feeling angry. With no vocals during the entire track, the sound touches on elements of metal with use of punchy power chords accompanying the spacey, dancey dynamic of the song. However, I couldn’t help but find it more fitting to dance under a strobe light than to act out in any kind of violence.
Sometimes, the most dignified thing a group of artists can do is leave their egos at the door. Motherland is a testament to this paradox. On the album, the band radiates electronic dance grooves and direct, sexual lyrics that other bands would probably be scared to embrace out of fear of not being taken seriously. However, Apollo Cobra’s obvious lack of care to be taken as deep or complex demands a different kind of respect: this is dance music boldly undressed and unhidden behind any kind of ingenuous facade.
I’m sure we could pick apart what musical statements exist in Motherland and what it all might say about the stiffness of music today, but we’d probably be missing the point. Just put it on and dance.