Propulsion is a word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to music. Well, maybe not the exact word, but its synonyms certainly do. Whether an album is “forceful” or maintains “momentum” make or break certain releases. The Chain Gang of 1974’s new album, Wayward Fire, is propulsive. There is no let up; nearly every song has a beat that pummels you into submission, and that is most definitely a compliment. After a couple months of wading through lifeless synths and dull moods with New Wave-ish releases from Architecture in Helsinki and Sons & Daughters, it’s nice to have a perfectly tolerable set of songs with a damned beat to them.
The intro for “Stop” bounces its way into your head via an electronic beat before the acoustic guitar counts its way in. A few seconds later, a wicked bass groove settles in. A couple minutes after that, the song explodes into a rave set in 1987. The album is already more diverse and memorable than its recent musical contemporaries. “Devil is a Lady” has a furious backbeat that drops out to kickass results once the rhythm picks up. “Taste of Heaven” is a mixture of reserved yet punchy verses and raise-your-hands-to-the-heavens choruses. One of the rare mid-tempo tracks takes its form in “Teenagers”, a yearning and nostalgic track, for sure.
Wayward Fire still has its flaws. Just about every song could be cut by about a minute, and mastermind Kamtin Mohager’s lyrics don’t exactly reach the levels of Cohen or Dylan. But does that really matter in the long run? This music is meant to be heard live, preferably in condensed concert venues where sweat is flying all over the place. Mohager takes the propulsive beats of New Order and makes it his own for the modern club set. With a better editor, Mohager’s future won’t let up any time soon.