Music Park: New Build @ U Street Music Hall — 12/2/14

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New Build: Felix Martin, Joy Joseph and Al Doyle at U Street Music Hall

Al Doyle and Pat Mahoney are rather moved to be sharing a stage again.

Not that the two men share a band any longer since the dissolution of LCD Soundsystem. But their two new bands are touring together in a perfect pairing, forming something of a double bill for a tour that kicked off Tuesday night at U Street Music Hall in DC. And of course Doyle and Mahoney took time during their respective sets to voice their appreciation for each other and their new bands.

“He’s like my twin brother except I’m the balder, fatter one,” Mahoney joked of his relationship with Doyle.

Doyle’s new band New Build recently released a second album, and Mahoney’s band Museum of Love have released a debut. The plan generally is for Museum of Love to open for New Build, but a car accident prompted New Build to play first last night. (Fear not, as apparently no one was hurt!)

New Build includes Doyle and Felix Martin, both of Hot Chip. And the New Build music, although its own unique form of ambient pop, sometimes resembles the slower songs from their other shared band.

They opened their show with “The Sunlight,” the first track from the new album, Pour It On. And it’s a good opening number as it slowly builds and draws you in with its sweet synths and light drums. Doyle sings gently and slowly as he references themes that recur throughout many of New Build’s songs: the struggle of people to find themselves through analogies of lightness and darkness.

After “The Sunlight,” which itself plays as a bit of intro music, the pace of the synths and percussion pick up considerably while remaining atomspheric.

A few songs later, for example, “Luminous Freedom” provides a showcase for New Build’s third stage member Joy Leah Joseph to shine. She sings backing vocals and her drums pick up a snappy intensity. Doyle hops from synthesizer to guitar, and later plays some particularly sparkly sounds on “White Sea,” which is the first time I could close my eyes and perhaps think, “This could be a Hot Chip song.” It’s meant of course as a compliment.

Lest you think the set contained only tracks from the new album, New Build perform “Do You Not Feel Loved?”, the second single from their 2012 debut, Yesterday Was Lived and Lost. It’s a melancholic yet dancable tune that again dwells on concepts of finding yourself, self-determination and “taming your lions.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPDrFNyBDpY]

Near the end of the show, New Build play their strongest song, in my opinion, “Look in Vain,” a stunner of a track from the new album. Bright with resplendent synths and a ridiculously hooky if foreboding beat, the song is a bit of a paradox. Melodically, it’s a weighty disco number, while lyrically it’s a cry of protest for being left behind by someone (perhaps not by choice?):

“Heaven knows how you cannot see/
That it’s all in the way that you measure me/
Can’t survive and I can’t sustain/
Look in vain, look in vain for the traces that remain”

Perhaps 50 people turned out on a rainy night to catch New Build, which was too bad as they put on a solid show. (I was pleased to see U Street Music Hall co-owner Will Eastman in attendance for New Build and Museum of Love, however!) New Build hit major cities now through Dec. 12, playing shows in New York City tonight and tomorrow night. In doing so, the band are offering a great opportunity to catch some good new music during a traditionally slow tour period during the holidays! Go check them out and catch Museum of Love as a bonus.

Oh, and yes, Hot Chip too are working on a new album, and Doyle speculated they would be back to play in DC (and likely the 9:30 Club) in June.

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