There it is again, that staccato beat copped from Joy Division's "She's Lost Control," which is rapidly becoming the "Funky Drummer" of indie dance rock. It's the pulse behind Windsor for the Derby's "Empathy for People Unknown," which harnesses luscious synths and subdued vocal harmonies atop the familiar broken thump into a divine 4 a.m. comedown. The nomadic WftD, a longtime collaboration between Jason McNeely and Dan Matz, has veered from last summer's bright, post-pop puree We Fight Til Death. Giving Up the Ghost is instead squarely Manchester circa 1980. The dirgy "Shadows" smells like an outtake from New Order's 1981 debut, Movement, and "Praise" exudes the same gothic-meets-blasé-indie-rock aesthetic, though rescued from morbidity by a cheap drum machine and kooky, carnivalesque key-peeps. Giving Up is hamstrung by muddy production -- possibly an attempt to emulate Factory Records' Martin Hannett. But the distant garage-rock fidelity instead renders tracks like "Science" indistinguishable from the band's earliest, live, house-party recordings. Progression or regression? Either way, it's a grim Ghost story.
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