Glasgow industrial duo deliver an eerie examination of the dance floor
Photo by Gemma Dagger
The perfectly-named Glasgow duo Total Leatherette make sexy, spooky, esoteric industrial dance with a strong social critique. That’s not a combination we see enough in the music world, but Nikki Tirado and Scott Caruth have demonstrated the intelligence and creative drive to pull it off since releasing their debut album Fist & Shout last September. “Work Harder,” the latest single off the band’s recently released LP For The Climax Of The Night begins as a minimal industrial beat before acquiring a broken disco bass line as the band chants and yells the repetitive lyrics “Work, Work Harder, Big, Big Hard On” in their signature rhythmic deadpan. It’s perfect music for your local goth dance night, leather bar, or, as the band puts it in their press release: “fundamentally this is music made for one intention; to fuck. Hard.”
At the same time, “Work Harder,” like the rest of the band’s catalog, is rooted in a carefully considered social analysis and queer centered politics. With this record the duo say they are turning their critical lens to the dance floor, explaining, “As opposed to maintaining a simple celebratory relationship with these spaces and histories, we are interested in the ways in which anxiety, competition, and alienation played a central role within spaces that were carved out by our forefathers and mothers to generate senses of solidarity, love and expression.” “Work Harder” may at first sound like a straightforward S&M command, but it doubles as an examination of the intense labor involved in performing appearances in the club or the bedroom, particularly for queer people who must continuously navigate both past and present trauma.”The song personally conjures an image of Paradise Garage in New York, a year or so after the outbreak of AIDS where the dance floor became emptier, alien and instilled a sense of paranoia and distrust amongst those who were not too ill or afraid to attend,” the band notes.
For The Climax Of The Night is full of similarly strong dance floor ready songs backed with essential messages. The record’s fearless experimentation and rigorously examined political foundations recall another of the year’s best records of the year, Algiers‘ The Underside of Power. On previous single “Faux Fox” the band stretches and sculpts an ominous house beat out for a full 9 and a half minutes as they compare the fox to the cruising gay man who is “…constantly surveilled, hunted, outcast, yet cunning, close to invisible, straddling and problematising the loose boundaries between public and private in the dead of night, all the while maintaining an elegance and a cry that will make your toes curl and startle you out of your slumber.”
All of our cities need more bands like Total Leatherette filling up clubs with sleazy rhythms and clear analysis. Buy their record now via Milk Music.