A few days have gone by since we last heard from U.K. electronic trio Dirty Vegas, but after a half-decade of seeming radio silence, the boys from Britain are back with their second studio album, Electric Love, released Tuesday on Om Records.
But the guys haven't been sitting on their thumbs all this time. In fact, recording for the new album began back in 2008, when their individual side projects were put on hold, and Paul Harris, Ben Harris (no relation) and Steve Smith decided it was time to return to the studio and get back into what brought them together in the first place.
"The recording was really the easy part," Smith told MTV News. "I'd send a vocal to [Paul and Ben] in London, and they'd say, 'I don't really like it, Steve,' because I'm not in the room! We just got to the important stuff quicker. So we cut the bits out we didn't need. And the songs come together. Before we knew, it was like 30 songs in, and we were like, 'I think it's a record there now.' "
But that didn't mean the album was ready to hit shelves right away.
"It was about 18 months from literally having the 10 tracks that we liked," Paul said. "We kept changing the styles and directions all the way along, and obviously what we have finished with, we are really, really proud of."
Perfectionist as they are, the trio knew — making their first wave since "Days Go By" launched them to international fame — that they had to manage the burden of expectation appropriately. They decided to reintroduce themselves with the title cut from Electric Love.
"The three of us were in the studio, and we were thinking of the old days of rave culture that we first got brought into electronic music — before cell phones or the Internet or anything. There would be pirate radio stations telling you to meet in a certain car park and then follow directions to an illegal rave," Paul recalled, "It was that whole discovery of going out and finding that, and the character [Chad, played by Shawn Tracey] in the song [represents that]. He's not going to a VIP club, he doesn't have his cell phone. He's going out, and he's finding a doorway in an alley and it's a dark room and it's just a DJ with a sound system and the song comes from that" — and so did the music video.
The track, already painting a picture of obsession and temptation, set in a strip club and porn shop, was brought to life by video director James Golden, who dove into a fantasy world conjured up by the video's subject, including a rather interesting scene with a car battery.
"There was kind of a sexy seediness in the lyrics, and he took it to the idea of the storyboard of this character being infatuated with this girl and seeing her," Paul explained. "There's all these macho things: He's driving muscle cars, he goes to the strip club, he sees her there. But he never actually leaves his hotel room. It's a figment of his imagination, because he's fantasizing about this girl [portrayed by Jena Malone]. And we thought it suited the song quite well, actually, and we were just amazed when we saw it come back."
As dance music continues to the top here in the U.S., Dirty Vegas have made it a point to not only incorporate current sounds and trends into their new tunes, but also keep their signature style and swagger as a top priority.
"I think despite what's going on with music, the three of us are who we are whenever we come together as Dirty Vegas," Paul said. "We are going to create Dirty Vegas music. We all play instruments, we love DJing, we love going to clubs, and all of those elements are going to come together when we get together to make a record. Technology changes, the music scene changes, but Dirty Vegas still makes electronic dance music, some based with beats, and we will never change it."
Dirty Vegas have truly embraced those fluctuations with their appropriately entitled second single off the album, "Changes," a track that originally dropped in the underground back in early 2009, receiving club play and a flurry of remixes, including those by Felix Da Housecat and ATFC. The rock-infused original mix of the track is a continuation of "Electric Love," sonically and visually.
"Our character is going into changes, and it's a transitional period for him, because he's not happy with certain things in his life. And there's also a little bit of that in the song," Smith said. "And, you know, 'Changes' as a song is offering the optimism at the end; the only person that is going to change anything is yourself."
The video treatment for "Changes" again focuses on Chad's imagination, which has again gotten a bit out of control. This time, he trades a stripper for a ballerina and a muscle car for — of all things — streaking through a cornfield. On top of that, he loses his job. Needless to say, Chad is a little out there.
"The video reflects that as our character kind of realizes that he's a little bit messed up and that if he doesn't do something for himself, then no one is going to do it for him," Smith explained. "So it just makes sense in the plot of our four singles. It's not just because it's our favorite song or whatever; it's what fits."
Next on deck is "Little White Doves," with the fourth release yet to be announced.
What do you think of Dirty Vegas' big return? Let us know in the comments below!