Desktop is the collaboration of singer/keyboardist Zach Curd (from The Pop Project) and bassist/singer Keith Thompson (of Johnny Headband). The synths are swirling, the club/house beats are pounding, the bass is pulsing, shoulders shimmying, feet stomping – good golly miss molly – it’s a disco… and, “girl, you’re burning up.” Yes, indeed, you get to hear Curd, known for his gossamer tone, if still sturdy belt, wail choruses like this in some sexified R&B vocal that would fit nicely into an Off The Wall daydream. We also hear Thompson flexing his sensibility for structuring dance tunes, away from the masculiney/campy rock realm of Electric Six or the slightly more rock leaning guitar-n-drum style of Johnny Headband.
For optimal listening, you should probably get the boombox out, run it through a PA, put your headphones on – and you’ll give it the power it demands. The three tracks gathered here are all capable for that dreamy, dizzy, lost-in-the-sea-of-bodies-in-the-flash-of-lights setting of a dark, neon splattered dance floor, incanting a quintessential give-yourself-over chorus for anthemic dance pop, “Do whatever you want…” over a jittery bass line, inescapable beats and twinkly raining synths.
It helps that both songwriters are so shaped by the whirlpool-influence of the 70’s (AM pop, krautrock, metal, disco)..., Liberty ranges from the dark stylized synth pop that came out of new wave (there’s a beautiful and strikingly dark, atmospheric moment in “Liberty,” where it slows down and the bass starts flexing in a bit of a low roar and tinny synths start cascading over Curd’s looped wail, as a low end synth starts churning stronger and stronger before the beat comes back in and we’re going crazy again), ...to the flat-out disco-spurred fever of early club-set dance-pop (Thompson sets a gristly, driving bass groove under buoyant synth echoes in sunny, coaxing tones in “Fired Up” while Curd slides in with that stutter-step, soulful disco rouse), to prog-rock leaning dance-rock (the layered percussion and declarative crunchy guitars of “Too Much” calms things down from the freaked up disco, even if the chorus is just as swaying, it’s given a bit more of a head-bob/fist-pump rock feel, as synths bounce playfully unto dramatic guitars).
Local fans familiar with main projects can imagine their danciest moments of past songs - take the peanut-butter side of Pop Project’s campy, synth/rock 80’s sit-com flare up anthem “Coerce” squeezed against the jelly of Johnny Headband’s funky, post-punky-guitar-swaggering “Tell You,” put the extra punch of the pixie stix sugar of pounding beats….and you’ve got Desktop.
(photo: Will Yates)