I Am The World Trade Center
The Cover Up
et’s just skip the part about choosing bad band names, shall we? For the record, I Am The World Trade Center got to the twin towers before Osama did, having released their synth-pop debut, Out of the Loop two months prior to 9/11. No word on why Dan Gellar and Amy Dykes “were” the World Trade Center in the first place, save for an enigmatic reference to the two towers as a metaphor for the couple’s relationship, “both professionally and personally,” says Gellar, and something about how they really, really like New York. But aside from said metaphor gone horribly awry (should we call them I Am The Empire State Building in exchange for your peace of mind?), there’s nothing particularly tragic about IATWTC—shiny, happy-looking kids out to make 80s-esque sounds on their Powerbooks and make you dance your proverbial heart out. Only problem is, shiny and happy as they were, Out of the Loop and The Tight Connection didn't make you stop thinking about their name long enough to make you move, and weren't much more than two albums of pleasant and innocuous electro-pop, at best.
Sure, Out of the Loop—the stuff of foot tapping and "the white man's overbite"—was decent enough to land I Am The World Trade Center some ink as neo-New Wave revivalists. But it was, hopefully, more a sign of things to come—“things” translating to less twee, more bass, and what we’d hoped would be something ultimately more danceworthy. No such luck: The Tight Connection flopped trying to remake the 80s, covering Blondie’s “Call Me” and The Stone Roses’ “Shoot You Down” and doing justice to neither, instead sounding like Zero Seven snorting Ritalin off their ipods. Bo-ring.
So The Cover Up could’ve turned out to be another typical IATWTC installment—catchy, noncommittal ear candy with Dykes sounding like an extra spaced-out Debbie Harry singing twee masquerading as New Wave. It isn’t—thank goodness—probably due in large part to the couple’s personal—though not professional—breakup. Dykes still sounds like a spaced-out Debbie Harry, but whatever; she’s pissed off and jaded this time around, and it’s lovely. With The Cover Up, IATWTC does a better job of ripping off New Order, while often drawing from trance. The sound is fuller and better, the bass pounding enough to render The Cover Up a convincing dance record and Dykes singing variations of “I’m what you want and don’t you deny it” with a coolness that finally works in her favor.
That said, I Am The World Trade Center has a ways to go before landing at something truly original. For now, though, they’re no longer monikers of tragedy playing empty, exasperating synth pop. The Cover Up, at long last, does better—associating I Am The World Trade Center with legitimate move-your-feet music and proving that, by Jove, the terrorists haven’t won.
Reviewed by: Rachel Khong
Reviewed on: 2004-07-13