The Marches get about 65 seconds into the opening of its Satellite/Star Records outing before someone name-drops the title of the record. The detail is a minor but, unfortunately, an illustrative one. 4 A.M. Is The New Midnight always seems in a rush to nail down the bottom line and deliver; while this keeps the record’s 15 tracks compact and colorful, it does less to allow the band to explore the terrain it’s sculpting here – a mixture of Motown, funk, pop and dancefloor designs.
The record is occasionally accented with what, for lack of a better phrase, could be called electro-pop. The title song, which opens the record, features both a snaking keyboard line and vocals from what sounds like a Mac. “Rudolph Valentino” uses similar synths to flirt with hip-hop. And “Bobby Brown,” all synths and distorted voices, caves under the pressure of its own electronic conceits. But the better songs on the disc wander from this formula, whether it’s using piano to establish some drama (“Sometimes Sex Isn’t About The Money”), injecting horns to jazz up the proceedings (the incredibly catchy “Cold Hands Warm Heart”) or letting a lead saxophone’s blaring just take the show away (“Ghost of A Chance”).
The record has some genuinely engaging moments. The sensual female lead that simmers her way through “Need Me Back” – “Have you ever needed someone ‘cause no-one needs you back?” she coos — is one of the record’s standout performances. The incredible “Don’t Love With Your Eyes” channels swing bands like the Cherry Poppin Daddies. The foot-stomping “Bad Touch,” with its hopping bass line and sax-driven choruses, gets the blood flowing and the funky sway of “So Ill” also is worth noting. (This is all especially impressive given the fact that only two songs on the disc crack the three-minute barrier.)
There are, sadly, a couple of bumps in the road, from an oddly placed faux-rock exercise (“Wish You Were Here”) to a pair of synth noodlings that merely slow the pace of the record (“Skinema,” “The Trouble with Heart Murmurs”). For some reason, The Marches also has chosen to include 90 seconds of goofing around in the studio, right in the middle of the record (“End of The Album Pt. 2”).
All in all, it’s good record, especially so for someone seeking bite-size fare for the dancefloor. You just wish they had given some of the material on the disc more room to spread its wings and grow.