Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance (1978), 7/10

David Thomas obviously exhibits superbly unique vocal delivery throughout, giving The Modern Dance an individual appeal as a rock oddity. A track like "Sentimental Journey" and its bottle-breaking melody are a bit hard to latch onto, but tracks like "Non-Alignment Pact", "The Modern Dance", "Street Waves", "Life Stinks", and "Humor Me" all have fantastic, infectious rhythm sections and choruses that give you enough to dance to, pardon the pun. As opposed to their proceeding effort Dub Housing, the band were still toeing the line of embracing their absurd eccentricities and a traditionally structured songwriting methodology. For example, while “Laughing” has considerably experimental passages, it retreats into a simply catchy chorus as a palette cleanser. Then comes another insidiously poppy track in “Street Waves”, again host to a splendidly intoxicating rhythmic groove, and while I typically lean towards a full-on unconstrained embrace of weirdness, these tempting rhythmic patterns are too satisfying to deny and give the album its adorning distinction amongst punk albums. It is consistent in its dichotomous driving melodies and layered madness. Best elevated when paired with vocal experiments like that of “Life Stinks” and Thomas’ almost animalistic guttural insanity. Where much of punk and hard rock rely on brute strength in vocal delivery, Thomas produces a vocal complexity and idiosyncratic strangeness rarely ventured to accentuate his technicality. There are subtleties hidden amongst the melodious caverns of these songs, sometimes more obvious than others like the blatant electronic meanderings during “Sentimental Journey”. Still, the less obvious give credence to its value as an experimental project and vitality that begs you to return. This all closed with perhaps Pere Ubu’s best single composition in “Humor Me” as a superbly accessible close to their debut effort. The Modern Dance is essential in the punk archive and even broader as an experiment in rock music.