Let’s (Not Just) Dance

Datarock keeps sweating out clever social commentary.

Datarock frontman/leader Fredrik Saroea pauses in the middle of his train of thought to acknowledge the recent passing of filmmaker John Hughes. Much as the band's new song "Molly," with its references to Hughes' iconic Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles, suggests an obsession with '80s camp, Saroea isn't pausing in a show of reverence. Instead, he chooses his words carefully before clearing up misconceptions about the band.Audiences see Datarock as "that sunny band that references John Hughes films," says Saroea. "But, with all due respect, that's not what we're all about." And as the Norwegian band tours in support of its brand-new sophomore album, Red, Saroea also wants everyone to know that he doesn't consider Datarock dance music per se."You have remixers to take your music to the dance floor," he says. "But then you have yourself to write the soundtrack to your live show. Our live show isn't a dance floor."If Datarock doesn't want to be misunderstood, a song like "Dance!" on Red, with its chanting chorus of "Dance...you gotta dance," isn't going to help. Meanwhile, "Molly," of course, was written as a tribute to actress Molly Ringwald, but comes across more like a panting and heaving, teenage-fantasy crush. So convincing is the song's period-piece mise-en-scene that it successfully transports the listener to a poster-covered teenage bedroom circa 1986. Red is, in fact, stuffed with '80s references—its lyrical content and its notable analog synths. Prince's "Purple Rain," Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science," and much of Talking Heads' catalog all make (blatantly announced) guest appearances in the music. And the beats, though more akin to Kraftwerk than early-'80s disco, sound like, well...dance music.So what gives? Is Saroea putting us on? Has he taken Datarock's old tune "Nightflight to Uranus" too much to heart and lost his way up his own ass?In a word: No. He simply wants to make it clear that he's not some obsessive junk-culture fanatic, and that he sees the '80s as a legitimate artistic period, not to mention a pivotal time in human evolution. And he wants you to dig deep into Red's grooves until you find the more obscure influences."The early '80s," he offers, "weren't really about Cyndi Lauper or Madonna. Just like the '90s weren't about Britney Spears. Hopefully, after people listen to the album, they'd want to check out Yellow Magic Orchestra and the Fall."feedback@seattleweekly.com

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