There's something a bit surreal about the return of the trendsetting late-Seventies dance band Chic. Visions of polyester-clad bodies bending and churning beneath strobe lights, heated by disco fever, are vivid. And so are the echoes of the relentless, textured, slicing rhythmic grooves that lifted folks to the physical bliss of that decade. With the release of their new album, Chic-ism, founding members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards – alas, drummer Tony Thompson, the third pillar of the Chic triumvirate, is not on hand – have re-created the formula that spawned the soundtrack for a generation of clubgoers. While there may not be a track on this album as sizzling as "Le Freak" or as optimistically resilient as "Good Times," Chic-ism is nevertheless a luscious mix of sophisticated soul and haunting street beats updated to challenge the retro-disco mood sweeping the contemporary dance scene.
As with the original group, two female singers – Sylver Logan Sharp and Jenn Thomas – provide the feel-good vocal energy of Chic. The debut single, "Chic Mystique," is a husky dance tune that soars on the power of a thick bass line. "JusaGroove" is just that, a funky, gyrating song reminiscent of Chic's Seventies soul mates Parliament-Funkadelic and Earth, Wind and Fire. And the two ballads, "One and Only One" and "Take My Love," are rich, ethereal songs awash in the steamy, seductive appeals of Sharp and Thomas. "Something You Can Feel" marries a prototypical Chic groove to a catchy rap (courtesy of one Princesa), while "Chic-ism" blends dense percussion and high-pitched horns with a deep bass line.
While musical fashions have obviously changed over the years, Rodgers and Edwards's vision of what makes a sound innovative and accessible remains consistent – so Chic's return to the music scene after a long hiatus is most welcome. Masters of an irresistible, eclectic sound, Rodgers and Edwards prove their music is more than just another groove – and can shake the booties of another time.