Port Royal’s fourth release, Afraid to Dance, amounts to another stock product of that genre deeply hurting for an aesthetic revitalization: electronic. The makeup of this album’s shoegaze songcraft—low-impact rhythms, narcotic atmospherics, and airy openness—lacks the pop impulses sufficient to prop up a full-length. The industrial crackle of “Pauline Bokour” is just wearying, and the idle “Attorney Very Bad” seems constructed of only whispers and passive wind (the album’s title turns out highly un-ironic). “Anya: Sehnsucht” and “Leitmotiv/Glasnost”, both drawn-out compositions, shed all semblance of an identity with their meandering ebbs and flows. Like much of electronic, Afraid to Dance needs a mission statement, an encompassing purpose that can be aurally gleaned. Superior contained moments do emerge out of these blips and pings, these clicks and guitar swirls, but to what meaningful end? Where is that wall-to-wall vitality, whether subtle or overt, that travels beyond mere technical stimulation? Sadly, Afraid to Dance is one of myriad culprits that prompts but shirks this pressing question.
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