On Working Class Woman, Marie Davidson gets the balance just right between the dance floor, humour, psychoanalysis and criticism of club culture in one of the most toe-tappingly fun and ingenious albums of the year.
Most of the tracks feature the Montreal native’s oft-humorous “spoken text” pieces in her Québécois accent, riffing on life in the nightclub and psychology with confidence (she is actually quite funny).
After a run of techno-saturated albums, the move to Ninja Tune is a comfortable fit for Davidson, as she can focus on less categorised dance music and make more natural (for her) beat-driven hybrid tracks, and generally unleash her id more on Working Class Woman. Here the beats are sparse yet big with some nice crisp production, and with rolling drums to punctuate the four-on-the-floor tempos. And in keeping with the psychoanalysis theme, the synths have a hint of unresolved menace in them that gives the tunes an edgy feel.
Opening track Your Biggest Fan sets the tone, with Davidson mimicking banal lines from sycophantic fans which is funny enough in itself (“I’m sorry I missed your set, I heard it was amazing”), but with an increasing undertow of other voices from haters plus her own internal dialogue of self doubt to make it into a strange melange of split personality voices. The best track on the topic since Miss Kittin’s Professional Distortion.
Single Work It is the perfect track for anyone’s workout playlist, featuring a catchy jingle, stomping beat and inspirational yet tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “Work, work it. Work it to be a winner”. Completely absurd, yes, but when this infectious track hits the dance floor, punters are definitely going to work their assess off. Win-win.
The Psychologist and The Tunnel might have been taken from lines delivered on a shrink’s couch, but when put in to these slick tracks they are turned into a community therapy session. The Psychologist starts out with some minimal lines uttered from a male authoritative-sounding psychologist at the beginning, to which Davidson proceeds to offer up her thoughts to some juicy motorick-infused beats. In contrast, The Tunnel is an inspired recounting of an anxiety-inducing nightmare over an effects-laden track – scary, fun and exhilarating all at the same time.
Second single So Right is a sappy, satirical take on dance floor music lyrics, that is – “He’s got me feeling so right, the music is so nice. I feel like I could die happy, die happy tonight.” Despite the incredible insipidness of the words, the peppy tune is hip-shakingly good, trapping you in Davidson’s having-her-cake-and-eating-it-too game she’s playing here.
Not all tracks feature words, with several being straightforward, head-down dance track workouts. Workaholic Paranoid Bitch is pure adrenalised mischief, sounding like a 10-year old juiced up on red cordial learning how to work the looping buttons on a drum machine. In contrast, Burn Me is a smoother electro house track that slowly stokes up the heat with tension-building synths and a loping bass, setting up an even bigger bass line for dance floor combustion. And the sci-fi infused sounds and electro beats of Lara induced an early-2000s B(if)tek flashback in this listener. Some more quieter and contemplative pieces conclude the A and B-sides, mixing up the album a bit.
Working Class Woman is a fun romp through club culture and the workings of Davidson’s peculiar mind. Somehow she’s managed to work all the disparate elements together to make for a surprisingly good fusion of dance music, satire and psychology concepts. Who knew that hard work, dancing and therapy could be so much fun to do all at the same time? Do what Marie does and just “work it”.