Port-Royal's debut Flares was met with much critical acclaim and found the group creating long, drifting passages of post rock that never really rocked like their contemporaries, but released tension through subtle changes and plenty of texture and subtle melodic shifts. Afraid To Dance is the second album from the group and the title seems like a bit of a play on their slight shift in sound for the release. This time out, the group have more of a reliance on electronics and programmed beats, but as the title of the album suggests, it doesn't mean that they're setting out to make your booty move.
Afraid To Dance actually moves with largely the same spirit as the first album from the group, even if the instrumentation is a bit different. Ten tracks run a clean sixty minutes, and although the group drifts in places, the release feels a bit more tight than their previous album, with the aforementioned rhythmic focus pushing things forward most of the time. "Bahnhof Zoo" opens things and sets the stage with a heavy fog of reverb-coated piano and guitar drifting over some subtle, but crunchy beats that provide just enough of a backbone to hold things up before a synth-based coda swoops things upward.
The following two tracks are a couple of the low-points on the release (the nearly nine-minute almost twee electro post rock of "Anya:Sehnsucht" follows the inconsequential "Pauline Bokour"), but fortunately things pick up again about a third of the way through the release with the Seefeel-esque "German Bigflies" and over nine minutes of shimmer in "Deca-Dance." The latter (and somewhat unfortunately titled) track is especially a standout, with heavenly choir vocal washes, pitter-patter beat programming, and a synth-heavy second half that calls to mind Tangerine Dream.
"Leitmotiv / Glasnost" picks up where the aforementioned track left off, with arpeggiated synths spiraling upward alongside drifting filter drones before the track melts into a loping thump with another slew of overlapping waves of sound cascading off one another. So it goes with Port-Royal, who were lumped by many into the post rock genre, even though their sound very, very rarely moves into something that would be called rock at all. If anything, the group is creating super-spectral ambient music that moves with just enough beat-filled moments to keep it out of sheer drift-land. With their use of more electronic elements, Afraid To Dance might not end up aging quite as well as their debut, but I have to give them credit for not simply churning out a simple sequel.