Art Department’s 2011 debut album, The Drawing Board, made a big impression: the combination of gloomy new wave and understated deep house made for a unique collection of depressing yet surprisingly danceable tunes. Toronto duo Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White’s follow-up moves further away from the dance floor, taking risks that sometimes pay off but lead to mixed results overall.
Seth Troxler makes another guest appearance, but his darkly sleazy vocals on Cruel Intentions make it unlikely to join the club hits of AD’s debut. Distancing themselves from what brought them success seems a deliberate move, though, and it’s refreshing to hear Art Department tackle new challenges. When they let their experimental impulses coexist with their pop instincts, the results are strong enough to overshadow the occasional misstep.
Top track: Catch You By Surprise