“Is this a dubstep record?”
Not quite, although Body Language’s Social Studies certainly starts off that way—with a thick, top-heavy baseline absolutely hammering your speakers. Ah, but then the synths kick in like laser canons, leading us all down a neon-lit wind tunnel that’s lined with lean loops, galloping grooves, and head-circling hooks. Which begs one simple question: what is this, really?
“The title sums it up perfectly,” explains Grant Wheeler, who sings and swaps instruments alongside his longtime production partner/lead vocalist Matt Young, glockenspiel guru Angelica Bess, and drummer Ian Chang. “Depending on the day, we’re producing indie music, DJing house, disco and Detroit techno, or writing pop songs on the piano. So we wrapped our record up like a tidy textbook of genres, or different cultures in a social studies class.”
And like any decent textbook, Body Language have a lot of history behind them, starting with the weekly parties Matt and Grant used to throw at a dive bar in Connecticut. The residency led to their love of dance music and a need for homemade club edits of everything from Billy Ocean to Don Henley. Not only that; the pair also started to tackle their own tracks, with Angelica eventually rounding out their ever-evolving sound and Ian stepping into his rhythm section role on the eve of a Bowery Ballroom show with Passion Pit. That billing wasn’t an isolated incident, either. As it turns out, Body Language lent their programming skills to several tracks on Passion Pit’s breakthrough album. They’ve also worked with such wildly different artists as Theophilus London, Machinedrum, and Fur.
But enough about the magic Body Language have brought to other records. This fall’s Social Studies EP—a tidy collection of four limited 10’’ singles—is a fitting followup to their 2009 debut Speaks, applying a refined pop palette to sample-splitting melodies (the title track), dollops of disco (“Falling Out”), and what can only be described as pure analog bliss (“You Can”).
“I suppose it sounds selfish,” says Grant, “but we wrote what we wanted to write. We get the same joy and satisfaction out of losing our shit behind a pair of turntables as we do singing four-part harmonies.”
Which explains why Green Velvet and Grizzly Bear get equal time on the group’s hi-fi, and with a proper LP already in its planning stages, let’s just say they might actually sound exactly like Billy Ocean by the time it’s done. Who knows. We can only hope, right?
1. You Can
2. Falling Out
3. Social Studies
5. Seeds of Sight
7. We Got Enough
9. You Can (Live Version Bonus Track)