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The Juan Maclean is the project of John Maclean, a Rhode Islander who produces fantastic electronic music for the New York dance-punk label DFA Records. Five years ago the group (featuring Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem) released the wonderful The Future Will Come, a sprawling disco-funk odyssey that drew influences from The Human League and other such British new wave artists as well as taking inspiration from the Detroit techno scene. Aside from the obvious strengths of the music, the chemistry between Maclean and Whang was a huge talking point. Their memorable duets were filled with call and response and tales of romance and heartbreak, and helped to put the album up there with all the best soundtracks to a night out. It's a shame it took them this long to release another LP, but now they have: In A Dream continues Maclean's intentions, to bring exceptional dance music into the modern age. Why should classic disco remain in the '70s?

In A Dream opens with 'A Place Called Space', surely an ode to the theme from the cult film The Warriors, in terms of its sound and structural build-up. Beginning with an urgent electronic patter, layers form and synths grow until out of nowhere we're hit by a loud and grandiose lead guitar, blaring and basking in its own glory. The song screams Giorgio Moroder and mirrors 'The Simple Life' (the opener from The Future Will Come) in the way that it introduces the record with an epic, building, driving gallop of a beat that expands and evolves over the eight minute duration. The chorus is a truly iconic Nancy Whang moment, as she warns: "It's too late, late, late, don't play your games here anymore." You wouldn't want to mess with this lady.

'Here I Am' is a pure pop number, with Whang taking lead vocals and singing about a dysfunctional relationship. It's a common lyrical theme for her, and cropped up a lot on the previous record. Whoever is being unkind to Nancy should stop doing so, but maybe not if it means we get these moody, lovesick songs as a result. The track itself is upbeat, with some brilliantly sexy synthesized bass and odd backing vocal samples. After only two tracks it is apparent that this is an ideal record to play if you're hosting a party or about to embark on a night out. The whole thing reeks of cocaine-fuelled nights that never end, euphoria and despair all at once, sometimes the two blending together to create a feeling that we can't quite grasp or describe. To be in love, to be high, to be out dancing and never ever wanting to go home. Despite the robotic feel of some of the songs, there is true emotion throughout, much of which is displayed through Whang's voice. The Juan Maclean is a meeting of man and machine, the fusion of electronica and the human heart.

'You Were a Runaway' features a gorgeous chorus from Whang, driven along by a mid-tempo downtown groove, all neon lights and dimly lit bars. One of its strengths is that it doesn't overstay its welcome: whilst it's a good track, it couldn't escalate and enlarge in the way that 'A Place Called Space' does, mainly due to its pace. It's a nice mid-album pop funk number after the rather sombre 'Love Stops Here', one of the only moments we hear in which Maclean takes the microphone alone (but which stands out for its amazing New Order-inspired guitar line). 'Running Back to You' is a slowed down, ice cold slab of electro funk that barely departs from its original beat save for the odd chime of a keyboard. The groove is dangerous - a really jarring, fucked up-era Bowie kind of attitude.

The only key weaknesses on the record are Maclean's lead vocals throughout. I loved his vocal appearances on The Future Will Come, especially the duets he did with Whang, but in In A Dream he sags as a singer and instead shines as a musician and mastermind, playing most of the instruments himself and obviously writing and composing the entire album with Whang. He takes the lead on 'Charlotte' (probably the only bad song, to be fair) but fails to make an impression, his voice lacking any character and barely managing to swim afloat amongst the repetitive synth stabs. The band works more when his voice remains hidden, so that he can occupy the mad scientist role, the creator and composer. Vocally, this is Nancy's album.

Immediately after 'Charlotte', however, is the catchy and infectious highlight 'A Simple Design' (a nod to 'The Simple Life' perhaps?) which gives Whang the mic and tells her to steal the show. The chorus is dazzling, her angular delivery and genuinely fabulous voice really projecting her to disco queen status. The song is stunning, she is stunning, and most of all, the partnership between Whang and Maclean is at its finest, the balance and dynamic on In A Dream proving just right. I wish they would release a new album every year. If you want a nocturnal classic packed to the brim with contemporary disco genius, this is the record you need to buy. The nights are drawing in, so now is the time. Grab your disco ball out of the attic and go forth!

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