Long Beach sextet Wargirl have long straddled an array of genres rooted in 70s rock and soul, gliding effortlessly between War, Blondie, Chaka Khan, and more with fierce grace. But with the release of their second album, the aptly named Dancing Gold, the six-headed commune of musical crossroads that is Wargirl have successfully taken the nostalgic pining of past decades and melded them with the current–dire–course of the 21st century. Pure, hot-bellied defiance and counter-culture crash harmoniously against the heady riffs and slick-pop-funk that so inspired it; leaving Dancing Gold to exist as one of the best modern reimaginings of it.
Comprised of singer Samantha Parks, Enya Preston on keys, Matt Wignall on guitar, Tamara Raye on bass, and Erick Diego Nieto and Jeff Suri on drums — Wargirl has long described themselves as a group of like-minded individuals who now see each other as sisters and brothers in their love of psychedelic, funk, and disco. And the sheer diversity of the band–culturally, racially, and musically–informs much of the album’s spirit; not to mention their support for current social movements like #BlackLivesMatter, of which Wargirl has been extremely outspoken for on social media.
From the moment those virulently catchy guitar lines start tumbling out of “Drive” — the album’s opening track — Dancing Gold never stops running out of ways to deliver its defiant manifesto in a deliriously catchy manner. The album’s title track digs into talk of Adderall and anxiety, of finding some form of release–all to the haunting melodies of Parks’ absurdly talented vocals–one that culminates in the groovy catharsis of its chorus.
And then it’s all Blondie-esque howls and synthesizers running circles around the swirling pop gem “Hang On;” before another switch-foot into “2069,” an 80s electronica hit that mom and pop would’ve burned a hole through the tape-deck with had it been around then.
“Pretends” tackles some soft disco mixes with all the glamour and glow owed to it, adding more weight to Dancing Gold’s “dance-readiness” side of the scale–before sliding suavely into what we feel is a continuation of the party on “Echoes,” subdued as they are under a funk-rock canopy.
But it’s the undercurrent that speaks to the necessity of defiance, of which the era from which Wargirl draws much of their sound was most marked by, that ties the album together. Parks pines about listening to Aretha Franklin and wearing bell-bottoms since she was 9-years-old on “2069,” while on “Don’t Bring Me Down,” the band arranges it’s most direct cry of its mantra on the album yet. And as the album nears completion the songs get more pointed: tracks like “Whatcha Say” drives the question outward and implores for unity, while “I Told Ya,” with it’s crash of brass and funk flittering towards the crescendo of Parks’ crooning.
And yet Dancing Gold doesn’t end as fiery as it began, with Wargirl allowing their final notes on defiance to drift away on the back of “Cry,” a solitary, shimmering ballad of one simple plea: no more tears.
Listen to the Wargirl’s new album Dancing Gold
Wargirl recently had to cut their European tour short due to COVID-19 and have started a GoFundMe to cover the costs of that lost tour, and you can also support the band by donating to their Venmo (@MWargirl). The band currently has twenty vinyl records of their new album which you can buy with a minimum $30 donation, merchandise is also available which you can purchase by messaging the band directly on Instagram.
If you plan on listening to Dancing Gold or streaming it at all, we encourage you to also financially support the musicians who are supporting us–emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually–through this crisis by giving us their art. Please donate what you can. You can visit the Wargirl’s website and Instagram to stay updated on new releases and tour announcements.