Class Actress Rapprocher
Brooklynite Elizabeth Harper’s first musical offerings appeared in the form of personal singer/songwriter fare — her airy vocals paired only with quiet strums of acoustic guitar. But having a long-held desire to make electronic music, Harper recruited producers Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal to assist in achieving her desired sound, and electro-pop outfit Class Actress was born. The trio wasted no time in assembling their Journal of Ardency EP, which Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor released on his Terrible Records imprint in early 2010. The five songs circulated widely, garnering acclaim and comparisons to Human League, Depeche Mode, and early Madonna at each music journal stop.
Now settled in with the folks at Carpark, Harper and co. put forth their debut long-player, Rapprocher. The album sees her playing a similar part to Journal’s playful lovelorn diva, but it pushes the EP’s proto-electro revisionism into new directions. Tracks like “Love Me Like You Used To” and “Hanging On” swaddle the record’s heavy disco beats in diaphanous sheets of delay, and the bouncing bass of “Weekend” make it a prime candidate for a feel-good summer hit.
Harper remains the force that binds the songs into a cohesive statement, her winking coo darting about in the deep drums and lofty arpeggios, and her passion – backed mostly with electronics– summons thoughts of Yaz’s Alison Moyet. In concurrence with the title (“rapprocher”is French for “bring closer”), the candid, sincere lyrics meld with the atmosphere, enveloping the listener into Class Actress’s world of 21st century romanticism.
Elizabeth Harper, a former drama major from Los Angeles, had been writing delicate, wistful songs of longing and detachment for several years when she met musician & psychoanalyst-in-training Mark Richardson in 2009 and asked him to remix one of her tracks. Their creative chemistry was instantaneous – Mark’s production style was cerebral but sensual, relying heavily on vintage synths and drum machines, and influenced by ‘80s bands like Human League and Depeche Mode while still conscious of modern club sounds steeped in hip hop and house. It perfectly complemented the melancholy undertone in Harper’s songs and revealed in them an urge towards ecstatic abandon.
Along with multi-instrumentalist/engineer Scott Rosenthal, the two formed Class Actress and recorded the debut EP Journal of Ardency, which was released to much acclaim by Chris Taylor’s (of Grizzly Bear) Terrible Records in 2010.
In the year since, Class Actress toured the US, Europe and South America, Mark worked towards attaining his PHD, and the band completed a new full-length record, entitled Rapprocher, which is French for “to come close to.”
The record is the soundtrack for a tragic love affair conducted in European discos and New York nightclubs, via smart phone disconnection and jet-lag disorientation, from within the dull opacity of luxurious hotel rooms and anti-anxiety medication. It’s the story of a relationship that’s yearning to go another round. Harper’s secrets and Richardson’s beats liberate the listener and freedom reigns on the dance floor. This is sensual music about tragic romance and the eternal longing for what you can’t have. Where Journal was the secret diary, Rapprocher is the love letter.
The pleasure and sorrow of romantic connection are inescapably entwined in Harper’s lyrics, while the smooth, cool surfaces of Richardson’s production conjure an eternal after-hours nightlife that Harper inhabits fearlessly, displaying a provocative, wounded raw sexuality that some reviewers have compared to early Madonna.
Class Actress is: Guilty Pleasure. NSA dance music. Casual Encounters. Stalker Pop. Depeche Mode meets early Madonna and Five Star as heard on the radio in the leather backseat of a cab.
Class Actress is not: Acting Class.
1. Keep You
2. Love Me Like You Used To
4. Prove Me Wrong
5. Need To Know
7. All The Saints
10. Hangin’ On
11. Let Me In