REVIEW: Introverted Dancefloor - Introverted Dancefloor

Kelly Kirwan

Bevan Smith has a fresh moniker. In the past he’s been a facet of electro/indie groups like Ruby Suns and Skallander, while also releasing solo ventures as Signer and Aspen. Now, with a new (eponymously-titled) EP on deck for release, our New Zealand expat has re-emerged under the guise of Introverted Dancefloor. Feels like a bit of riddle, right? Usually you don’t pair introspection with a form of exhibition, but then you hear the “chill” kind of dance music Smith has created and these pieces begin to fit together. This is more of an interpretive, modern kind of dance space than a strobe light-riddled, head-banging EDM den. And while his vocals stay soft and even-keeled, the beats themselves are layered and fast-paced.

Which is ironic, considering the bare-bones arsenal Smith used in his composition. With a microphone, two synthesizers, filter and effects processor, he traipsed across genres like Detroit techno, ambient, and Italo disco for these bass-lined numbers that hover between pop, funk and soul. A MacGyver move, right there. Apparently Smith approached these songs with the ambition and precision of a mad scientist, piling layer upon layer only to strip it down and start again. It was a search for that perfect chemistry, steered by some distant thought or experience he held onto for inspiration.

Take the track "Even If You Try," which was apparently crafted with Smith’s guiding mantra, “Make something like Arthur Russell.” The Introverted Dancefloor interpretation definitely hangs on to this style of remote vocals and fuzzy ambiance, which gives the introduction a kind of space-age quality before dropping the bass line. Then there’s "Happiness is Such a Mess," the first single off the EP, whose foreboding lyrics you’ll be humming under your breath, “If you ever feel unhappy, don’t forget things are bound to change, not that change is such a good thing…” Apparently, Smith had the chords to that song mulling around in his head for years, trying to find the lyrics that matched. The track (along with its offshoot "Pipedream") were also driven by that Morgan Geist/Metro Area sound, which can best be described as the offspring of house and disco revival.

Another ditty to dive into is one I’m sure we’ll find bittersweet as we start rolling into fall, "Giving Up On Summer." The skeleton of the song was written in an almost euphoric state Smith had one afternoon, knowing he wanted the lyrics to be a foil to B-52’s "Summer of Love." (Hint: some flings can’t withstand the equinox). When giving an overhead description for the EP, perhaps Carpark Records described his sound best as “playing the line between fluid melody and drum machine programming.” Smith isn't afraid to cut elements from his prior songs and paste them into tracks further along the album, giving listeners a sense of deja-vu—a kind of deja-vu that has a touch of melancholy, but just a touch.