The Belgian electro-rock scene still lumbers largely under the monumental shadow of Soulwax, but scrape beneath the surface and there are plenty of edifying acts gradually emerging from the fringes. Goose are one such outfit, their slickly-engineered synths and taut vocals dipping into hi-octane techno, crashing neo-disco, and flagrant synth-pop with unabashed conviction. Opener "Synrise" kicks off in anthemic style, fuzzy arpeggios and orchestral timpani driving ahead as drifting, wordless voices reach for the lasers. The rabble-rousing continues on "Can't Stop Me Now," lifting a fragment of the bassline from Kraftwerk's immortal "The Robots" and pumping it full of steroids. Meanwhile, the aggro-tronic churn of "After" commingles Jane's Addiction-style vocals with Knightrider monobass and endlessly spiralling percussion.
The album's middle section decreases in a urgency a little; the slo-mo staccato stabs of "Like You" are given more space to strut and Mark Karkousse's vocals return to the Dave Gahan-ish range they occupied on the band's lauded 2006 debut, Bring It On. More joyous, perhaps, is the searing major-key chorus of "As Good As It Gets," arguably the loudest, most celebratory effort on an album chock full of stadium-scale hooks and unrestrained electro-histrionics. For all their out and out rock-ness, though, the band clearly hold their Europop roots dear, as evidenced by the glorious Italo licks of "bend," the cybernetic Moroder churn of "In Cars," and the mock-sinister instrumental plucks of album-closer "Stars," which could be the theme song for a European cop show from a parallel cybernetic dimension.
By turns explosive, emotive and gloriously melodramatic, its often unclear whether Goose's overdriven flourishes are intended in earnest, or with a large pinch of knowing irony. Either way, they've succeeded in the tough task of making dark disco music incredibly fun.