Just a few weeks ago New York became the biggest state to legalize gay marriage, and if there were a perfect time for Thee Physical to debut, it’s now. Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy has always been one for fist-pumping, electronic opuses, but Thee Physical, with its exploration of gender and sexuality, marks a departure from the big, electronic sound and a move to, well, damn good pop songs.
These days “pop music” can be construed as a dirty word, with top 40 charts shunned by the more sophisticated sphere of musical aficionados. Pictureplane is not Ke$ha or Lil’ Wayne though; Thee Physical is reminiscent of acts like Grace Jones, Eurythmics and the early days of disco-turned-pop music. Pictureplane’s brand of pop music isn’t merely what’s popular but the smart kind of pop music that inspired club kids in the 1980s.
But Thee Physical isn’t merely a club album; it’s an homage to the early stages of electropop. The album is a hyper-sexual anthem for the gay rights platform that has achieved so much in the past couple of years. Songs like “Sex Mechanism,” “Real Is A Feeling” and “Trancegender” all bat about the gender, sexuality and body comfort issues at the forefront of American society today. They’re also superb dance songs.
HEALTH’s Jupiter Keyes assisted in the production of the album, and his presence is evident in the sensuality of the LP. 2009’s Dark Rift had its grating, overarching qualities, but Thee Physical sounds more streamlined; however, this album isn’t polished to perfection. Egedy sometimes attempts too much in his beats with “Black Nails” and “Negative Slave” sounding more like a noisy cacophony than coherent techno songs. The occasional tonal changes are also derailing, but Egedy always manages to right them in time.