Hercules and Love Affair are structurally no different than many club acts: A producer calls the shots, and adjunct singer/co-songwriter/beat-makers add ever-changing fresh flavors. But there's a fundamental contrast between Hercules and most current EDM: Andy Butler and cohorts engage with LGBT club culture in a complicated and meaningful way that isn't about slogans, stylists, and stardom. Instead, Butler curates a living art exhibit about what it means to dance and dream at the sexual margins. Where others obfuscate and dumb down, Hercules aestheticize and elevate.
"Blind" - the act's devastatingly dramatic and defining 2008 single off its self-titled debut, featuring Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons - set an absurdly high bar not matched by 2011's melancholy and Hegarty-free Blue Songs, a well-articulated ripple rather than its predecessor's unexpected splash. So it's only fitting that The Feast of the Broken Heart quite consciously hits harder. The orchestral brass, funk bass, and disco percussion that set Hercules and Love Affair apart are reduced to one exquisitely delicate jazz horn chart in soul-stirring closing cut "The Key." They're replaced by a streamlined and visceral adaptation of house heyday rhythms Blue Songs rendered fussy.