It's difficult to know when — or if — the Australian one-man dance act known as Muscles is being serious. Live, ensconced behind a small tower of keyboards and contraptions, he might yell to a mixed-bag hipster crowd: "This is my trance song! Do you all like trance?!" Before anyone has time to respond, he'll launch into a lo-fi version of trippy synth runs, churned by a propulsive, primitive drumbeat and punkified with his husky-accented yell-singing. And people will simply go bananas, sweating all over the floor with awkwardly animal dance lust and without the usual irony armor.
Guns, Babes, Lemonade is the Melbourne-based artist's first release for the can't-fail Modular label, capturing 11 slices of idiosyncratic, keyboard-driven party jams. Each one hits fast, with the lightheaded giddiness of a canister of nitrous, bolstered by simple, relentlessly happy, chant-along refrains. On "Ice Cream," the track currently making the club rounds, a million vocal tracks — a chorus of Muscles — praise the redeeming power of his favorite summer treat, while straight-up, old-school rave loops bubble up underneath. On "Sweaty," over chirping echo stabs, he hollers, "My hand slipped into your hand!/And it was awesome!/And it was special!" The disc's final track, built on a circling, climbing, crack-addictive bass line, simply recounts a lovely female admitting, "Hey, Muscles/I love you/I wanna have your babies!" By the end of this weirdly compelling, eminently danceable album, you might feel the same.