Single review – Caroline McLavy, Disco Ego

Reviewed by Phil Taylor (see his Music Observer blog here)

Release date: 24/02/24

The first few seconds of Disco Ego, the latest release from local electronic pop artist Caroline McLavy, are pure 80s synth-driven electronica. The melody is picked out with a wonderfully low-tech sound, conjuring images of analogue synths echoing experimentally in darkened studios.

Like all the best dance anthems, though, this is only a teaser for the energy about to arrive. That arrival is carefully delayed: before the beat drops, we’re given ethereal, futuristic vocals and then a new buzzing pulse hinting towards an upbeat tempo. There’s build and more build as Caroline’s vocals become more urgent. “I feel my heartbeat” she repeats as we finally get a beat and the energy increases.

With a laser pulse and squelchy synths everything drops away for a few short seconds, and then – boom! Everything finally explodes into stardust.

There are rises and falls to come, but the rest of the track is a bona fide high-energy bop. It gets a bit frenetic and intense; the beat and synth whirls up and up as if it will never stop. A sudden key change only adds to the intensity, and the energy continues right up to a sudden end.

Disco Ego does a good job of capturing something intangible in music. It’s a four-minute track which takes us on a surprisingly long journey with Caroline the musical artist and performer. The opening lyrics “It’s OK to fall in and out of love with the process” tell a tale which many artists will identify with; I’ve often heard people talk about the struggle to balance artistic passion with the less-than-glamorous reality of working in this field. But the song builds to explore the contrasting feeling of the euphoric, adrenaline-soaked performance when all that hard work pays off.

Caroline explains that this track (a collaboration with her fellow synth-pop creator LorD and Master) is all about what goes through a performer’s mind just before a live show. That’s interesting to me – I’ve always been fascinated by exactly that: how a performer gears up and often puts aside a part of themselves to take on a stage persona. Whether it’s a way of dealing with nerves or tapping into new reserves of energy, those moments of anticipation and transition are thrilling and exciting, and perhaps one of the main reasons musicians are so passionate about performing their music to a real audience.

“The idea for the song developed during the hours between sound check and waiting to go onstage,” says Caroline. “I would often find myself mantra chanting certain phrases and I thought; this would make a good song It’s about flipping on the stage presence as you walk onto the stage and remembering why we all do this.”

Disco Ego was released on 24 February. You can find it on the usual streaming platforms and download it from Caroline’s Bandcamp page.

Caroline will be releasing an album later in 2024.

You can find out more about Caroline on her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.