Listen Up: Wednesday, April 13, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Black Tie Dynasty

This Stays Between Us
(Idol Records)

By Jimmy Fowler

It’s not for nothing that Duran Duran is still selling out arenas worldwide and, what’s more amazing, is still able to play brand new material from a recent comeback album without enduring a stampede of hostile nostalgists fleeing for the exits. They’ve managed to locate the element of dignity within the very narrow limits of their sound, their talents, and the ’80s New Romantic scene that birthed their superstardom. In other words, they’ve figured out how to fiddle with an isotope or two in their musical narcotic patent — say, make the percussion a little punchier, bring the guitars a bit closer to equality with the synths — and not sound as if they’re just cashing in. Members of the Fort Worth quartet Black Tie Dynasty grew up surrounded by ’80s Brit-pop, and with their debut e.p. This Stays Between Us, they’ve already begun to puncture the brittle partition between homage and mimicry. Mixing slickness and sincerity, co-producers Brian McDonald, Mike Lamm, and the Dynasty understand the siren-call potential to daydreaming popsters of those warm, beckoning, train-whistle-in-the-night synth lines, here exquisitely reproduced by keyboardist Brian MacQuorcodale. Guitarist-singer Cory Watson delivers lyric couplets like “It looked like a crime scene / Covered up with ice cream” (from the opener “Crime Scene”) in the assured, boxy, uninflected manner of a Simon LeBon or the Human League’s Phillip Oakley. “Ghost of a Secretary” and “Southern Girls” lurk in the agreeably moodier key of O.M.D. and Depeche Mode. This Stays Between Us doesn’t begin to suggest where Black Tie Dynasty might go next. If they continue the electro-romantic thievery of Thatcher-era pop charts they began on their first full-length, the songwriting and playing had better be inspired. After that, they’ll have to confab with wily producers and hammer out the contours of a more distinct Black Tie Dynasty identity. For this sweet moment, though, This Stays Between Us captures what matters about a pop sound unfairly maligned by asshole rockist critics.


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