While not a revelatory listen, Miami Horror's second album is a more-than-solid summer record using a tried and true formula of electro-inflected disco-pop.
For a moment there, it appeared that several “nu-disco” artists that had been developing loyal, underground followings since the late ‘90s/early ‘00s (Todd Terje, Cut/Copy, Breakbot, Chromeo) were about to get their time on the big stage. The rebirth of disco had been steadily building steam, proving to be ever popular in Europe, and had appeared to be reaching a boiling point States-side. It was the perfect monster, similar to vintage disco in its euphoric propulsiveness, but stripping away the absurd decadence and infusing irony and self-deprecating humor -- the complete lack of which sent the genre’s original form to an embarrassing, Quaalude-induced death. No, this disco was going to be different, coinciding perfectly with pop music’s (re)embrace of the synthesizer and dance music’s takeover of American Top 40, the ‘10s were to be the real decade of disco. What happened, you might ask? Random Access Memories happened. A kaiju of a throwback record with all the frills and fussiness of vintage disco, complete with glistening suits and Niles Rogers, Daft Punk and R.A.M. thundered into the summer of 2013 with devastating force, destroying every attempt at bringing updated disco to contemporary pop fans in it’s wake.
But amongst the rubble and ruin, there is still life, and Australian nu-disco outfit Miami Horror’s second album, All Possible Futures, is proof. Clocking in at a lengthy hour and two minutes, primary member Benjamin Plant wisely spends the majority of the time focusing on tight melodies, hooky choruses and glossy soundscapes. It’s a record that the cynic within you isn’t supposed to like. In fact, I felt myself actively resisting the opening tracks’ cotton-candy synths and the seductive Duran Duran-esque crooning, which turned out to be a fools errand, because by the time “Colours in the Sky” rolls around and Plant exclaims, “There are so many good things to come,” over washes of jubilant swirls of electronics like he actually believes it, you have no choice but to give in. It’s indicative of the album's true charm, where the best moments have you feeling like the sober guy at the EDM Festival, who after an hour of standing with his hands in his pockets, realizes it’s easier just to enjoy yourself than trying to avoid fun. Plant is careful not to overload the listener with too much sugar though, taking cues from fellow countrymen like Dan Whitford (aka Cut/Copy), he provides some breathing room midway through the record with interludes which gives some needed space to come down from the fluid guitar pop of “Wild Motion” and the wiry electro-funk of “Out of Sight”.
That said, All Possible Futures is by no means a revelatory listen. The faux ‘80s sheen is applied far too liberally on tracks like “Love Like Mine” and things take an unfortunate turn for the melodramatic on “Who Is Gonna Save Us”. Fortunately for us, the majority of Futures is more interested in enticing the listener with blissed-out party anthems than it is with retro pastiche and, give or a take a few tracks, Plant largely succeeds at what he’s trying to achieve here by giving us what should be one of the years best summer records.