Moving Units
Dangerous Dreams


or every trend in music, there are the haves and the have-nots. For every Radiohead, there is a Muse. For every excellent retro rock revivalist band like The Strokes, there is a derivative toss-off like The Vines. That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that, after several successful dance-punk (or nu-wave, if you want to call it that) records by bands like The Rapture, !!!, and others, bands that simply don’t have the necessary mettle that brought their forefathers to the spotlight are attempting to step to the front of the stage. Moving Units’ Dangerous Dreams may just be the red headed stepchild of the dance rock movement.

Their most glaring problem is their style. The dance rock genre is one that thrives on the unique. After all, it’s not very hard to make a danceable rhythm. What’s hard is presenting that rhythm in a package so that it’s acceptable to an eager public. The Rapture had a “dark, New York cool” vibe to help their sound, along with the anticipation from slowly leaked singles. !!! have their vocalist’s ridiculous lyrics that suggest the band is the foul-mouthed clown of the scene. And Moving Units have what? Stale disco beats?

The album opens with a very promising guitar line that lasts all of eight seconds before disappearing behind some tinny cymbals and limp vocals that do nothing to contrast the overly repetitious lyric, “You control me, I am your slave.” The irony is pretty thick, coming from a band that lacks the creativity to take control of the genre by themselves, instead stepping back, content to be slaves to a trend they helped revive themselves.

The album’s highlight comes on the very next track, on the Strokes-like “Between Us & Them.” The chorus could easily be mistaken for Julian Casablancas moving into dance territory, but it more importantly features one of the few times that the group doesn’t rely on a lyric repeated constantly. Even still, the only thing I can think about after repeated listens is that I’d much rather listen to The Strokes than a band that briefly sounds like The Strokes.

The rest of the album goes off without as much as a hiccup; 10 more songs of strangely drab dance music that doesn’t offend, but fails to impress just the same. It’s hard to express out and out dislike of the record, because it doesn’t do anything to warrant it. It’s as if the band worked just hard enough so that no one would hate them. Mission accomplished.

If Moving Units want to improve upon their current formula, they’ve got to work on varying their sound. Not only are the lyrics far too repetitious (without being especially clever), but the same stale snare hits and average guitar work backed by crystal clear muffled vocals adorn every track.

This is a nice effort, and surely nothing to be embarrassed about, but too many bands are simply doing a better job of this dance rock thing right now. It’s up to Moving Units to start to innovate or move on to something else. If you’re a fan of the genre, don’t bother with Dangerous Dreams unless you’ve absolutely exhausted your current dance records.

Reviewed by: Dan Kricke

Reviewed on: 2005-01-03

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Posted 01/03/2005 - 09:58:42 PM by KyleMcConaghy:
 Very nice review, Dan! Thanks for the great read.
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