As challenges go, successful dance-rock is the musical equivalent of the north face of the Eiger. It seems so tempting but previous attempts have ended, if not in tragedy, then in records by Regular Fries and Audioweb. It makes the achievement of New York's James Murphy and expat Briton Tim Goldsworthy all the more remarkable. As the DFA they have crafted beat-perfect disco-punk for the likes of the Rapture, Radio 4 and Murphy's own band, LCD Soundsystem, earning them the sobriquet "the indie Neptunes".
Murphy is, at first glance, no Pharrell. Dressed in a fading T-shirt, he has the kind of beard you end up with if you forget to shave for a few days, and hair that's evidently been styled at Chez Bedhead. Yet he's as exhilarating a frontman as you could hope for.
While Murphy jabbers, yelps, roars, wails, drawls and howls, his band generate pulverizingly relentless grooves that move between splenetic garage rock, simmering punk-funk and aggro electro-pop. This is dance music with menace, like a Brooklyn twist on the Happy Mondays or the Fall's Mark E Smith commandeering Talking Heads. And it is obscenely, devastatingly loud. "Somebody actually asked for it to be louder," beams Murphy. "I don't think that's possible."
The most frenzied reactions are reserved for their two singles. Yeah is an agit-disco throb that mutates into searing techno, as every band member hammers away at drums, cowbells and tambourines. Losing My Edge is a grinding, hypnotic parody of exactly the kind of ultracompetitive hipsters who buy DFA records. "I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know," Murphy scowls. Amid a blizzard of electronic noise, he lets fly a climactic barrage of spoof name-dropping: "Joy Division! Eric B & Rakim! Pharoah Sanders!" After this electrifying performance, he might want to add LCD Soundsystem to that list.