Hailing from Glasgow’s thriving post-punk scene, university friends Walt Disco set their sights on reconfiguring ‘80s new romanticism for the ‘20s; the fêted six-piece’s glammed up image and decadent avant-pop wiles seeing them support trailblazers Duran Duran and indie mischief makers Sports Team on tour, spurred by the kinetic fashion of their first EP Young Hard & Handsome.
From opening track “Weightless”, Unlearning lives up to its titular promise, throwing out the rulebook in flexing between the vaulting range of Sparks, early noughties dance, and the art rock of Franz Ferdinand. Theirs is an anomaly in the current landscape, the bombastic blurring of punk, techno and new wave recently touted by HMLTD, waltzing through an offbeat, mirrored wonderland with flashes of singularity. It’s such operatic scale that carries Walt Disco’s gyrating niche, a blend that has lent inevitable comparison with the Associates’ lead prodigy Billy Mackenzie, tracks such as “Those Kept Close” recalling the late vocalist’s famed falsetto set to early Human League-leaning electronics.
The harlequinesque “Selfish Lover” introduces the album’s kookily peppy side, “How Cool Are You?” a strutting invitation into an alternative fantasy dimension, whilst darker turns are taken through subterranean proto-industrial synth offerings such as “The Costume Change”, reminiscent of John Foxx-era Ultravox in its viscous minimalism. “Cut Your Hair” skews between Spandau Ballet and Adam Ant’s charismatic dandy pop, equipped with tight basslines and frontperson James Potter’s supercharged serenades. Japan-esque “Be An Actor” injects further otherworldly appeal alongside the twilight zoned electro trickery of “Hold Yourself As High As Her”, which steers between Grimes, throwback ‘90s inflections, and sparkling Europop iridescence; “Macilent” its dark fable-like antithesis - fairground frivolity melded with gothic schlock to vivid effect.
A record that belies its debut status, Unlearning bares the strength and complexity of a later career offering, with Walt Disco deftly updating their precursors’ flair from a twenty-first century vantage point, championing the illustrious Scottish post-punk tradition in the process.