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Review: With Your Help, Miami Horror Let Loose on ‘All Possible Futures’

SPIN Rating: 7 of 10
Release Date: March 03, 2016
Label: Dine Alone

For a band so steeped in Australian, bush-brined sugar-pop, Miami Horror show a better understanding of American Top 40 than many of our own homegrown mainstream acts. Helmed by Benjamin Plant — who started MH as a solo project in 2007 — the now-four-piece spends much of sophomore album All Possible Futures catering to the synthetic hooks that pop listeners demand, but in a way that unsubtly demonstrates their aching for something, anything new — whatever the cost.

What took Miami Horror five years between their only two albums? If anything, All Possible Futures does a decent job expanding upon the nouveau-disco experimentation first tested on Illumination, a debut that had too much forgettable sonic minutiae and not enough payoff from guest vocalists like Neon Indian and Kimbra. The follow-up is a different beast altogether: a learned, more properly cobbled project that coheres even when it dangers toward too much hat-tipping and pandering.

All Possible Futures is, piece-by-piece, a far more inviting record as well. Not only does it offer more opportunities to dance, but it grabs listeners by the scruff of their necks and tosses them into the deep end of an infinity pool in some far-flung paradise. This is some seriously polished, funk-up-the-floor songwriting. “Love Like Mine” pipes in Chromeo-spawned guitars as Cleopold’s vocals step out of their Hot Tub Time Machine and spray confetti across the melody. How big/blue/beautiful “Out of Sight” is as it gallops out of the speakers with its shirt ripped open, chugging Crystal Pepsi and tossing packs of Fun Dip to anyone watching who’s still coherent, bless ’em.

Miami Horror succeeds most frequently when abandoning any pretense of taste — the bigger, the better; the schmaltzier, the more blindingly beautiful. Syncopated bass and fluttering keyboards grab hold of the other and swirl until the sun rises. Guest vocals — no names are given, but who can remember beyond the blur of faces in the middle of a beachside wonder rave? — are juiced up, tempered down, chopped and screwed, masked by wind and sand, all in the pursuit of unbridled joy.

Some breathers (“Into the Night,” “Maybe I Need You,” “Happy Without You”) wriggle their way between the bangers, but they’re not quite necessary. Why slow the roll when there’s relief at every corner? Worse still are the moments in which Miami Horror abandon the disco for the mainstage, leaning briefly but noticeably too hard on exultant but superfluous homages like “Out of Sight,” little more than a preening impression of Tame Impala and the Talking Heads Do Burning Man.

Likewise, the group should’ve taken a hint from the overwrought title “Who Is Gonna Save Us” and looked inward, since the answer is so obviously “ourselves.” Therein lies the rub: nobody wants to think too hard when they’re having fun. Let loose, move your body, fuck shit up. All Possible Futures makes that mostly possible. But it’s up to you to fill in the rest.