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The Beat’s Alive: This City’s Local Italo Disco DJ Has a Crush on Sally Shapiro

Sally Shapiro. Photo Credit: Sally Shapiro, from their Facebook page.
Sally Shapiro. Photo Credit: Sally Shapiro, from their Facebook page.

Sure, its title is on the nose. But Sally Shapiro’s “This City’s Local Italo Disco DJ Has a Crush on Me” — and the 2013 album Somewhere Else as a whole — is a gorgeous, synth-heavy groover that does its Italo Disco antecedents proud.

Sally Shapiro is both the pseudonym of a Swedish woman and the name of her project with fellow Lund native Johan Agebjörn. Their blend of retrosynth and Italo-Disco-revival exude a raw but ultimately tongue-in-cheek sincerity that only pop-oriented Swedes (and often Italians) can bring to the table.

Sally’s voice is too gorgeous, and her enunciation too perfect, to constitute a true Italo Disco homage, but it’s still a beacon of light in a world laden with muck. The music, for which Agebjörn is purportedly largely responsible, is a straightforward blend of disco and pop the likes of which few people do anymore. Sure, there are the revivalist movements and the retrofolk and the indie groups who mine all that territory with excellence, but there’s a certain spirit and sacredness that runs through the downright fun music these two brilliant souls release.

Nowhere is this more apparent than “Italo Disco,” which is saying a lot considering the song lives on an album featuring Electric Youth and Anoraak. On this cut, I just want to sit back and let the synths, the liquid guitars and Sally’s angelic vocals envelope me in some special kind of bliss. At the same time, the rhythm makes me want to dim the lights, whip out a Sazerac, grab my gal and shake our bodies until we’re tired.

Sally and Agebjörn have been releasing albums together since at least 2006, earning cred from all the necessary kingmakers. But it is “Italo Disco,” with its obvious title and tongue-in-cheek delivery that elevated the two to retro-royalty. They’re the College of Italo Disco retrospectives.

Anyway, the track, released on Paper Bag Records, is below for your streaming pleasure, but I’d implore you to buy the entire album (if you haven’t already in the past two years). Give these two brilliant people your money. We want them to keep making music for a long time.

(Editor’s Note: The Beat’s Alive is my occasional column focusing on everything associated with the Italo Disco genre, from the artists and their music, to the culture and history that created them, and anything else that comes up. Because I’m so damn predictable, I got the column’s name from a Glass Candy song. Viva Italians!)