Picks and Pans Review: Infinity Within
During the '70s, age of mood rings and leisure suits, disco became a middle-class anesthetic. Nowadays disco is back under the rubric "house music," with more ambitious lyrics. Three years ago Janet Jackson urged us to expand our minds while wiggling our hips to Rhythm Nation 1814, and on last summer's dance anthem "Gypsy Woman," Crystal Waters bemoaned homelessness. Now Deee-Lite, those neo-disco darlings, have succumbed to the fashion for politically correct dance music.
In the band's nifty 1990 debut album, World Clique, and its irresistible Top 5 single, "Groove Is in the Heart," the soft message of interracial harmony was cloaked by the frivolous babble and the retro chic of psychedelic visuals and thrift-shop fashion. But on Infinity Within, the threesome trade their platform shoes and hippy-dippy duds for turtlenecks and much basic black. Deee-Lite now favors the throbbing beat of "deep house," a bass-heavy form of neo-disco, throwing in an occasional twist: rhythms mimicking a human heartbeat, reggae-rap, horns, a flute solo and an African chant.
Meanwhile, vocalist Lady Kier (formerly Lady Miss Kier, but perhaps the Miss was deemed un-PC) seductively insists that we beware global warming, wear condoms and register to vote. (The liner notes thank Anita Hill, Jimmy Carter and the militant gay group ACT UP, among many others.) The irony is that this bandwagon-esque approach provides some of the album's best musical moments. The giddy "Rubber Lover," advocating safe sex, and the gospel-flavored "I Had a Dream I Was Falling Through a Hole in the Ozone Layer," cumbersome title and all, are highlights. She makes it hard not to care, even as she winks through her tears.
Of course, some of Deee-Lite's lyrics can make you cringe ("I am a fire sign/Won't you feel my solar power"). "Fuddy Duddy Judge" is just a roll-call of societal ills, and the feline come-on, "Pussycat Meow," is little more than an excuse for Kier to do just that. Still, her sensuous coo lends weight to even the dippiest drivel, and the groove is always, well, deee-liteful. (Elektra)