Bitter Company

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Love Meets Lust has a good thing going. On the surface, this Detroit quartet's sound is heavily '80s-influenced dance pop that easily holds its own among the throng of bands currently pilfering that sound, including Bloc Party and the Rapture. And in a city that's currently as well-known for birthing techno as it is for its gritty garage rock, Love Meets Lust's dance-crazed live shows have been attracting big, diverse audiences. The key here, though, is music that's broad enough to pull fans from several disparate scenes.

Mixing great hooks, thumping electro-beats and a measured helping of Trent Reznor's early-day angst a la Pretty Hate Machine, Love Meets Lust bridges the gaps between hipster indie kids, gloomy goth rockers, day-glo accessorized club goers, and Top 40 arena rock fans. Vocalist-programmer John Webb and keyboardist-programmer Mike Stefanski take on the task of songwriting, with Jeff Arcel and Wes Alfonsi rounding out the sound with guitar and bass respectively. What? No drummer? Nope. True to the '80s new-wave tradition, heavy synth beats dominate Bitter Company in lieu of a guy with sticks. Thankfully, though, Webb's lyrics and delivery are emotive enough to keep the sound human, if at times a bit melodramatic. On "Direction," one of the album's standouts, he sings, "If everyone's the same here, then why am I alone, wasting time, chasing something I can never find?"

Despite the brooding, the guys of Love Meets Lust still have a sense of humor, which serves as the first line of defense against would-be detractors. Along with the standard shirts and stickers fans can find at their merch table, there are also buttons — one of which reads, "Drum machines have no soul." After listening to Bitter Company, it's clear they've found the formula to prove that sentiment wrong.

Love Meets Lust plays Sunday, Aug. 31 at the Chrysler Arts, Beats & Eats festival in Pontiac.

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