Bypassing the usual synthpop route, LA-based duo NIGHT CLUB have significantly expanded their audience by opening for the Maynard James Keenan-helmed alternative rock giants A PERFECT CIRCLE and PUSCIFER over the past few years and in 2023, goth rock icons THE CULT.

Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks captured the enforced confinement of lockdown on 2020’s ‘Die Die Lullaby’ to produce their best album yet. But having delivered that wonderful 35 minutes of existential dread, 4 years later, the world is at war on several fronts, And with US citizens still seemingly not learning past lessons and wanting to STILL “make America great again” despite an attempted insurrection, ‘Masochist’ is a highly appropriate title for the new NIGHT CLUB album.

Emotions can be summed up by the inclusion of ‘The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)’, a cover of the song by FUN BOY THREE. Written as a metaphor to the dangerous posturing games played by “The Cowboy” Ronald Reagan in 1981 during The Cold War, today an even crazier orange face from the screen is attempting a comeback followed by his flock of mindless sheep… NIGHT CLUB’s update for the 21st Century brings in the Las Vegas Mass Choir for the deep vocal hook but when Kavanaugh joins in several octaves higher with her characteristic feline delivery, an even more sinister resonance ensues that gets boosted over the tighter mechanical rhythm.

As with ‘Die Die Lullaby’, Mark Brooks has mixed the new album with Dave ‘Rave’ Ogilvie, a former member of SKINNY PUPPY known for his work with NINE INCH NAILS and Marilyn Manson. But crucially, Ogilvie also mixed Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2011 worldwide smash hit ‘Call Me Maybe’, attaining that sonic balance between dark underground electronics and mainstream pop which characterises the “Britney fronting NINE INCH NAILS” approach of NIGHT CLUB.

Featuring their champion Maynard James Keenan, opener ‘Gone’ imagines an electronic MUSE fronted by Britney Spears with its spikey arpeggios and a mighty range of multi-layered vocals to produce something of an epic drama. With the album title taken from its lyrics, ‘Barbwire Kiss’ doesn’t veer away too much from the archetypical NIGHT CLUB formula as a sister song to ‘Pray’ from ‘Requiem for Romance’ and equally sinister, but ‘Another Side of You’ surprises with some latent stripped down gothic funk.

With the world seeming to be one giant ‘Crime Scene’, its synth metal chorus reminiscent is what Britney would sound like after binge watching ‘Wednesday’ while ‘Let’s Play Revenge!’ develops on the NIGHT CLUB lyrical template to “Keep your friends close and your enemies in your songs”!

The superb ‘Pretty Girls Do Ugly Things’ does ‘Mean Girls – The Musical’ and grooves yet maintains a wonderful dark cynicism! Britney Spears should cover it! No! Britney Spears WILL cover it! ‘Fatal Crush’ takes a leaf out of Aussie pop princess Kylie Minogue by offering NIGHT CLUB’s own take on ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ mashed-up with ‘Cruel Devotion’ from 2014’s ‘Black Leather Heart’ EP while ‘Everybody Knows’ is a close cousin also driven by pulsing disco octave basslines.

The closer ‘Black December’ is an unexpected traditional rock ballad that contains organ and guitar textures! But elements of ROXY MUSIC’s ‘Song For Europe’ also creep in, highlighting NIGHT CLUB’s affinity with music from across the Atlantic… yes Britney Spears was from Mississippi but her imperial phase was written and produced by Swedes!

50% of ‘Masochist’ retains what would be considered the classic NIGHT CLUB sound but the other 50% explores some deviations which could point to a number interesting possible pop futures.

An immediate and highly enjoyable album, ‘Masochist’ pulls the not very easy trick of keeping established fans satisfied while also offering something different but connected to the path.

‘Masochist’ is released by Gato Blanco as a CD, red or clear vinyl LP and download, available from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
15 March 2024