Natalie Portman's Shaved Head and Glistening Pleasure

You have a pretty good idea what you're getting into here

'Keep it strictly on the dance floor/Otherwise what's your booty for?" asks this electro-retro Seattle dance quartet on "Iceage Babeland," one of the catchier tunes off their full-length debut. The members of Natalie Portman's Shaved Head are barely out of high school and consequently have little in the way of self-consciousness—their name might've given that away. So they brazenly concoct a sound that summons up the brittle dance sounds of 1980s synth-pop and the freewheeling spirit of disco, though hip-hop phrasing and an ironic presentation keep this from being mere revivalism. The songwriting could be sharper, though, as Glistening Pleasure is as lopsided as a New Romantic haircut: Think Le Tigre or the Go! Team with less melodic flair.

The good news is that they never forget to keep the "fun" in funky. Lead singers Luke Smith and Shaun Libman can veer from Britpop crooning to Bee Gees falsetto with complete abandon; the call-and-response vocals they scatter in songs like "Beard Lust" and "Side Ponytail" are absurd in a B-52's sort of way. Clare England's fizzy synth bass helps the band avoid dance-rock clichés, as does the unobtrusive production by Lance Abair (father of smooth-jazz saxophonist Mindi, incidentally). Altogether, NPSH are at their best when they grab you with both concept and chorus, as on the leadoff cut, "Me + Yr Daughter," and the jumpy "Hush Hush." So far, they're good at making us wanna get down tonight, though you definitely can get enough of this.

Natalie Portman's Shaved Head play the Mercury Lounge August 11

 
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