Dan Geller and Amy Dykes, aka
I Am the World Trade Center, are nothing if not resilient. They held on to their band name through ignorant September 11-related controversy and continued making music together even after their romantic relationship ended. Now they're facing what is probably their biggest trial yet: Dykes is being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma. Their outlook seems positive, though, and hopefully a happy and healthy IATWTC will soon be tearing up the stage once again with their famously high-energy sets.
I know there have to be plenty of boyfriend/girlfriend duos who've stuck it out musically, if not romantically. Just now Dead Can Dance is the only one I can think of (and really, their artistic spark fizzled out well before they did). But suffering seems to bring out the creativity in some people, and apparently Dykes and Geller are of this type. The Cover Up's sparkly dance-pop veneer is much more than a front for vapid '80s-ripoff nothingness. This bauble is barbed.
All I can say is that Geller must either be utterly committed to his band or have an extremely well-developed sense of culpability to keep performing as some of these lyrics are thrown in his direction. The Cover Up is indisputably a breakup record, and expresses all the attendant emotions -- which can't be very easy to make the music for. "No Expectations" deals with the new and uncomfortable limits of an altered dynamic between lovers; Dykes sets clear boundaries with the words "If you're looking for a good time call me tonight / If you have expectations don't call me." Geller occasionally interjects his own harsh words, though; as Dykes silkily intones "I'm what you want and don't you deny it" during the chorus of "Deny It", Geller tries to do exactly that: "You forced me to feel but you can't face the final ending / We both want to speak but we don't know what to say / You pushed it too far and now I will be leaving / I'm not gonna stand here and watch you walk away."
You say you aren't in the mood for an angry breakup album, and you just want suitable background music for putting on makeup before you go out clubbing? The Cover Up will serve your needs just as well. IATWTC do '80s-influenced dance music the way '80s dance music artists wish they could have. There are shimmering synth lines and heavily treated vocal harmonies aplenty, but it's the little touches and subtle countermelodies that really make the songs stand out. And of course, they're catchy as hell. There's a cohesiveness to this album that occasionally borders on sameyness, particularly as one song goes into another... but Dykes and Geller usually manage to inject a separate spirit into each track.
Whether taken as a serious testament of broken hearts or as a slick pop record, The Cover Up establishes I Am the World Trade Center as much more than a novelty act or another trendy duo.