Hercules & Love Affair's heyday was 2008, when the NYC collective grabbed the attention of the world with soul-scorching songs 'You Belong' and 'Blind' taken from their self-titled debut. The set was largely the creation of main sorter outer DJ/producer Andy Butler, with his acquired dance floor acumen and choice selection of charismatic vocalists. If in the past the output of Hercules could be described as some kind of mutant disco funk, the current state has gone one badder and transformed into pumping house tinged with technological murmurs. Not necessarily a surprise in the New York dance music field, where house and techno influences hang around like any regulars you might find at bar.
With this new release the jacking house vibe has moved into the foreground, giving The Feast of the Broken Heart a raw unbounding edge. Alongside this transformation of sound comes a freshly rotated line up. With previous Hercules singers like DJ/producer Kim Ann Foxman, Antony Hegarty and sultry futurist Nomi gaining career momentum, a new set of vocalists stand tall. As per usual, some are better known than others, with each getting significant slabs of vocal line over a pumping track that shows off their talents and ability, bearing their souls to beautiful results.
The Feast of the Broken Heart showcases a cool slice of New York house-powered night life peppered with soulless bleeps strikingly contrasted with vocals full of wanderlust and heartache. It all begins with new intro song 'Hercules Theme 2014', a far toot on the trumpet from the laidback meandering of its 2008 namesake. The 2014 version has a sense of urgency that you could imagine works well as an anticipation builder at live shows and on playback generates a melody that imprints itself on your consciousness. By contrast, the album ends with 'The Key', a gospel-led anomaly of a track sung by recurring guest Rouge Mary that delves into downtempo breakbeat snapping territory. Her other songs are perhaps more interesting. 'Think', for example, is easily one of the stronger tracks in the set - it catchily creeps up during its first minute then drops into a driving wine bar style interlude of a track, ending with the expressive hysterics "don't you walk away". '5.43 to Freedom', on the other hand, starts off with guttermouth trash talking samples that standalone make for a revolting track. Taken in context with the rest of the song that makes way for the empowering message "be myself, there ain't nobody" begins to unveil a narrative that moves from the end of the daily grind to the freedom that the dancefloor offers.
Other tracks on this album include night time excursions with folky edged Krystle Warren on 'My Offence' and 'The Light'. Then there is the Antony Hegarty of this album, John Grant. He puts in an appearance on 'Liberty' and 'I Try to Talk to You' - one of the main flags flying for this album. If that's not enough, then there is also Belgium's Gustaph with the snappy sincerity of 'True Love'.
As a daytime collection of songs this album has its faults, but as long as it's consumed after hours, preferably in a club, it excels with a persona charged with swirls of unbound desire and dance friendly dazzle.