Band of the Day

2012.02.17

Dirty Vegas

Sleek, elegant house from London, UK infused with pop and rock sensibilities
You are still a whisper on my lips. A feeling at my fingertips, that's pulling at my skin.
lyrics from Days Go By

Dirty Vegas is an award-winning electronic music group for London, England. The trio first came to prominence in with their song “Days Go By,” which was a hit in the U.K., then went on to conquer America after being featured in a Mitsubishi Eclipse TV spot. The song went on to win the Grammy award for Best Dance Recording in 2003. Dirty Vegas have also remixed tracks for a variety of artists, including big names like Justin Timberlake and Madonna. They released their self-titled debut in 2002, and the album One in 2004. The band broke up in 2005, but began working together again in 2008, releasing a third album titled Electric Love in 2011, on OM Records.

You've probably heard a Dirty Vegas song, even if you don't know it. In 2001 their song “Days Go By” became a hit in their native U.K., then became similarly ubiquitous in the U.S. after getting featured in a Mitsubishi ad. Not much more than drums, a bass line and singer Steve Smith's haunting vocoded vocals, it's a pretty brilliant merging of cool, techno lounge and pop songcraft. Since their breakthrough (which eventually went on to win a Grammy), Dirty Vegas have released three albums, broken up, and gotten back together. The first album since reforming, 2011's Electric Love is an exciting return to their origins: sleek, elegant electronic music infused with the structural DNA of a rock song.

Less loungy than their earlier work, album title track “Electric Love” simmers with energy. Smith's vocals are effortless, like a really smooth James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem), while funky guitar helps heat things up. The track never explodes, but maintains an infectious danceable energy throughout. Beginning with its almost garage rock loop of distorted guitar, “Changes” is the sound of a band letting their hair down. Smith is clearly having fun singing above the thumping bass drum and soulful female backup vocals as the song shifts into high gear for a sweaty, club-filling chorus. “Today” is a downtempo ballad made up of chiming acoustic guitar and a steady, simple beat. It edges a bit on the cheesy-side in places, but has enough earnest charm to still make it a winner.

Other tracks follow the energetic electro-pop mold brilliantly: “Pressure” harkens back to 90s techno juggernauts like Underworld, “Little White Doves” boasts a killer chorus and grandiose guitar/synth interplay. Dirty Vegas manage to retain the emotional-electronic paradigm of their debut, but keep enough playful, dance-for-the-fun-of-it spirit to ensure it connects and doesn't get saccharine.