The best dance songs are about dancing. Dance music is self-referential: Here is a song about dancing that will make you dance. It’s a simple transaction. There’s a magic to it, an acknowledgement that the song is a tool for you to use to free yourself. “About Work The Dancefloor,” the highlight from Georgia’s new album Seeking Thrills, is conscious of its own utility. It’s a song about itself. “I was just thinking about work the dance floor,” goes its grammatically awkward hook, just the sort of self-fulfilling gibberish that is liable to get stuck in your head. It treats the dance floor as a sanctuary, a space for personal transformation and revelation. “I don’t have much in terms of money now/ I don’t have material gifts for you,” she sings on the song, her voice pleading. All she has is the music, and she wants to capture that feeling before it’s gone.
“About Work The Dancefloor” is an absolute powerhouse of a track, one that could easily overshadow the album that London musician Georgia Barnes has put together, but Seeking Thrills has a lot of great things going for it. It’s an album that’s always striving, a departure from the often moody and claustrophobic music that she was making on her 2015 debut. There are a couple reasons for that change: Barnes got sober in between albums, reframed the dance floor as a place to exist when not trying to completely obliterate yourself. She reacted to the positive reception of “About Work The Dancefloor” and another early single, “Started Out,” and adjusted the songs she had already written accordingly to reflect the euphoria that she was chasing on those two tracks, fine-tuned them for maximum effectiveness.
The result is an album that has a winking awareness about the mood it’s trying to achieve. The songs are melodramatic and cascading, constantly in search of something brighter and more transcendent. Barnes is a studious musician, and she cites Chicago house and Detroit techno as major inspirations for the sound she was going for on Seeking Thrills. There are a lot of different ideas in play, all of them in service to that great high which can only be found on the dance floor, when the entrancing lights and sweaty bodies give way to actualization. There’s a skeevy club track in the form of “Mellow,” which features a verse from Shygirl; “Feel It” boasts an infectiously bratty chant. Some of the songs approach straightforward pop payoff, like “I Can’t Wait,” which sounds like Tegan And Sara after they made their synth turn. Throughout, Barnes’ aim is clear: to get you moving, to have you join her on the hunt for that transcendent feeling.
Most of the songs are about that search. “The dance floor, or any space which allows for collective energy, is connecting on a deep level to human emotion,” Barnes said in a recent interview. “It’s almost like going to church and having a religious experience.” On “24 Hours,” she sings about two becoming one, the communion of bodies and minds that happens when locked into the same beat. “On a crowded floor/ Darkness adorned/ Ultrasound light/ Consumed by night,” she sings. “It’s the rhythm” is the best explanation she can come up for the effortlessness of connection you can feel with another person while dancing. Its quasi-title track, “The Thrill,” is about embracing what makes you uncomfortable — Barnes adopts a Knife-esque growl to sing about opening herself up to new experiences: “We like it when it lasts/ We drive it really fast/ It’s been a long time/ Since I have opened wide.”
The album’s cover (a picture from the ’80s by photographer Nancy Honey) depicts children in ecstasy, sweaty and stretching their arms up high and desperately trying to reach something just out of frame. It’s a perfect evocation of the music that Georgia makes on Seeking Thrills, as she looks for something that will excite you, that will make you feel alive all over again. All that takes place on the dance floor.
Seeking Thrills is out 1/10 via Domino. Pre-order it here.
Other albums of note out this week:
• Field Music’s Imperial War Museum-inspired Making A New World.
• Beach Slang’s bashing The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City.
• Poppy’s uncanny pop valley I Disagree.
• Selena Gomez’s third album Rare.
• Body Stuff’s Body Stuff 3 EP.