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  • Vanessa Siebrass

Album Review: "Masochist" - Night Club

Photo: Night Club via Bandcamp

On the Ides of March (commonly known as the 15th), the electronic synth-pop duo Night Club released their fourth studio album, "Masochist." The album contains what fans would consider classic Night Club elements, such as haunting lyrics and dark, moody synth-pop; the rest explores variations that provide exciting possibilities for potential future creative endeavors. The result is a marvelously catchy collection that strikes a delicate and challenging balance - familiarity to keep existing fans satisfied, while incorporating new elements, continually evolving and expanding their talents. "Masochist" explores the darker side of themes such as toxic relationships, breakups, and the trauma that is often inflicted during the fallout.


Gone (Ft. MJ Keenan)

Barbwire Kiss

Another Side of You

Crime Scene

Let's Play Revenge

The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)

Pretty Girls Do Ugly Things

Fatal Crush

Everybody Knows

Black December

Comprised of members Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks, the Los Angeles band Night Club was formed in 2012, releasing their self-titled debut EP in September that same year. The band's second and third EPs, "Love Casualty" (2013) and "Black Leather Heart" (2014), followed in quick succession. The duo's musical credits include composing the music for Comedy Central's show Moonbeam City and the film Nerdland. LPs "Requiem for Romance" (2016), "Scary World" (2018), and "Die Die Lullaby" (2020). Night Club has also performed alongside bands such as A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Combichrist, and Rosegarden Funeral Party, to name a few.

Track 1 - Gone (Ft. MJ Keenan)

Album opener Gone sets the tone for this musical journey, featuring Maynard James Keenan (of Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer notoriety).  The synth progression feels sinister and otherworldly, punctuated by heavy drum hits and a pulsating rhythm. The drama heightens as the music swells; Emily's and Keenan's voices are eerie, menacing, plaited together in a haunting harmony. The song's lyrics depict a mutually assured destruction, a scorched earth policy, becoming irreparably damaged. ‘My heart has stopped bleeding/Can’t feel it/Emptiness lives on/My heart has stopped bleeding/Don’t need it/Everything is/Gone, gone, all gone…’  This tune entrances the listener and prepares them for what lies ahead.

Track 2 - Barbwire Kiss

Barbwire Kiss is both mesmerizing and hypnotic, coming in second on the tracklist and the second (and final) album single. Additionally, the music video for the tune was directed by none other than Mr. Dark Mark Brooks, featuring choreography from Youlmae Kim and Neil Schwartz. The track incorporates thundering drums, an immersive synth, and an infectious refrain, creating an undeniably addictive earworm. Poetic lyrics are flawlessly delivered by Emily's enticing vocals: ‘Kiss me underneath the blood sky/I don’t even know you/You won’t let me free/Placed inside your isolation/Don’t want to escape it/Throw away the key...' This track helps to emphasize and solidify the album's pervading dark theme.

Track 3 - Another Side of You

The album's third track takes a minimalistic approach, featuring a simplified beat and a throbbing, entrancing bassline, accented with sparkling highlights provided via keys. The stripped-down presentation offers a more intimate tone that nicely showcases Emily's vocal talents and range. Lyrically, the song feels predatory, sultry, seductive, and enticing. ‘I dare you/I will take you to a place where you can’t hide/I won’t share you/I will show you that/My taste for you is haunting/Got me wanting/Another side of you...'.  Additionally, the singer's spoken phrases, ‘I dare you’ and ‘Show me’, are particularly satisfying ASMR-esque additions that provide an auditory finishing touch.

Track 4 - Crime Scene

Crime Scene, the album's first single, is an excellent representation of this collection. Featuring a heavy electronic melody, the song delivers an infectiously catchy and dark atmosphere. The mood here is mournful, dramatic, and spooky, emphasized by melancholy and somber key accents. The tune's spooky ambiance is enhanced by Emily's layered vocals and the explosive, punchy energy of the chorus, slightly reminiscent of a horror film's jump scare. The lyrics are classic Night Club, featuring macabre concepts and a darkly intense Gothic vibe. ‘Was it random/Like a phantom/Waiting in the shadows after dark/Thought I locked it/Couldn’t stop it/When I felt the pain inside my heart.’ The tune is supported by a music video that is rich with symbolic imagery. Watch it, and see what speaks to you!

Track 5 - Let's Play Revenge!

With a funky disco vibe and the faintest hint of mainstream pop, Let's Play Revenge is an invitingly seductive tune that packs a sensual bite. The vocal effects deepen the tone of Emily's answering lines at the start, which contrasts pleasingly against the crystalline notes of the keys. Lyrically, the tune embodies a huntress attitude, that of a feline mercilessly toying with its prey, unhurried and biding her time. ‘I got it bad, bad, bad/You know you better watch your back, back, back/I play it dirty/Yeah your sins got you runnin’/And now the end is comin’/Let’s play (let’s play)/Revenge (revenge)/Come close pretty thing get what you deserve/Taste the ashes of everything you burned...'

Track 6 - The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)

The album's sixth offering sees the duo covering The Fun Boy Three's 1982 hit, The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum). This rendition primarily remains faithful to the original while simultaneously incorporating elements that make it feel instantly familiar as a Night Club tune. The result is an utterly delightful, darkly whimsical, and topsy-turvy with an almost Addams family-type feel. Featuring the vocal stylings of the Las Vegas Mass Choir for the deeply resonant hook, Emily's higher vocals pack a sinister punch. Written during the Cold War Era and the Reagan years, the uncertainties and fears of the time are captured in the lyrics - ‘Go nuclear, the cowboy told us/And who am I to disagree/Cause when the madman flips the switch/The nuclear will go for me...'

Track 7 - Pretty Girls Do Ugly Things

Sporting a vibe reminiscent of Lady Gaga, the album's seventh track is an energetically punchy tune. The music starts with dramatically theatric piano, eventually giving way to infectiously catchy, dark synth tones. Emily's vocals showcase sinister lyrics that effortlessly glide off the tongue, much like a malevolent sorceress feverishly breathing life into an incantation - ‘Cut you like a razorblade/Play you like a masquerade/Suicidal hand grenade/She’s to die for/Hunt you like a criminal/Eat you like an animal/Homicidal cannibal/Do you want more?’  And these, ‘Burn you like an effigy/Swallow you like ecstasy/Narcissistic fantasy/She’s to die for/Smoke you like a cigarette/Choke you like a lariat/Fatalistic tourniquet/Do you want more...'

Track 8 - Fatal Crush

This delightful number is reminiscent of Can't Get You Out of My Head by Kylie Minogue, making it an excellent dance-along tune (as are most of the tracks, to be fair). A peppy, contagious beat punctuated by staccato synth and various additional sound effects contrasts nicely against the more somber and perhaps melancholy vocals. The lyrics here speak to the knowledge that one is entrenched in a cycle of dysfunction; much like a struggling addict, they have not only failed to extricate themselves from the situation, but they have become helplessly addicted to the chaos - ‘I’ve been waiting for you/My strange heart needs so much more of you/More of you, more of you, more of you/Now my desire’s not enough/I’m getting higher, burning up/You’re like a fire I’m dying to touch/A fatal crush...'

Track 9 - Everybody Knows

A pulsing, disco-inspired bassline, dark, moody synth, and the anguish in Emily's vocals deliver a broody, sorrowful track. The sensation of anxiety, coupled with the fear of having one's most profound secrets exposed, is tangible, punctuated by a rhythm mimicking an increased heart rate. There is a haunting sense of despair entwined throughout the vocal lamentations and the song's lyrics - ‘I've become a ghost of me/Haunted by anxiety/Everybody knows/And everybody knows/It's made a host of me/A living cemetery/...Can you feel their spell/Secrets that they tell/Feeling so unwell again/Can you call someone? Emergency/There's something fucked up inside of me/I want to report a casualty...'

Track 10 - Black December

The final track is a marked departure from the synth-driven, heavily electro-influenced theme throughout the rest of the album. A stripped-down ballad comprised of delicate piano and orchestral nods, this offering showcases the poignant vulnerability of Emily's vocals. Her voice, laden with sorrow and regret as she relives this agonizing experience, is hauntingly beautiful. ‘You said/See you again when/Spring can hide our shadowed ground/Still see my shadow now/And it’s getting older/Alone/With only memories/Of a king who lost his crown/Dethroned/Ruling a part of me/Buried underground...' 

"Masochist" is an album that is not only unafraid of taking a deep dive into darkness and all its facets but is then elevated by the duo's talents and artistry, resulting in an auditory treasure trove of catchy, relatable songs. If you have yet to listen to it, you are doing yourself a disservice. Check out their YouTube channel - Night Club has amazing, darkly imaginative videos rich in symbology and hidden details. Although the duo just concluded their "Masochist" tour with Rosegarden Funeral Party on the 19th, you can keep up to date on all the latest by following them on social media.

Written By Vanessa Siebrass

*Copyright not intended. Fair Use Act, Section 107.


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