Lace Up Your Rollerblades and Get Lost in an Ocean of Glitter: Community Theater’s ‘Having Everything’

Chrissy and Maria Amor turn their gaze towards the funked-up sounds of vintage freestyle, Hi-NRG, and electro on their new Community Theater project.
By    May 2, 2022

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Michael McKinney is your go-to guy for gutbuster hardcore, million-BPM singeli, tearjerking ambience.

Everything old is new again; just ask Chrissy and Maria Amor. Chrissy, a rave-music polyglot, has made a career out of pushing classic dancefloor idioms into the future, whether that’s storming breakbeats, riotous jungle, or fleet-footed techno. Maria Amor pulls off a similar trick in her work, blurring the lines between golden-era drum breaks and of-the-moment club tools. Their mutual interest in nostalgia-drenched dance-music sounds has brought them together in the past: on “Your Ghost,” from Chrissy’s debut LP in 2019, the pair united for a piano-house stomp that could have come out a decade earlier.

So their latest group effort, under the new moniker Community Theater, ought to come as little surprise. This time around, rather than looking to sun-kissed house records, the omnivorous musicians look elsewhere, turning their gaze towards the funked-up sounds of vintage freestyle, Hi-NRG, and electro. That’s not to say this is rote revivalism, though. Anything but: with Having Everything, Community Theater take old-school dancefloor fillers and rocket them into the future.

This is, in part, thanks to its lyrical focus; half of the songs here are odes to broken and fractured relationships, while the others focus on straight-up roller-rink jubilee. The title track can rave with the best of them, thanks to its bouncy pan-flutes, steel drums, and rubbery bassline, but Maria Amor cuts the sweetness with a series of bitter and serrated kiss-offs: “You act like it’s hard for you / Having everything except consequences.”

“The Same Place” mines a similar vein from a different angle, lamenting a relationship that just didn’t work out: “I’ll start this out by saying that I miss you / And furthermore I miss the you that you used to be.” The later references to dating apps and social media are no accident; Amor’s writing is planted firmly in the present tense. It’s a curious tension when held against Chrissy’s retro-leaning sounds, but it’s a valuable one, too. The immediacy of Amor’s lyricism ups the stakes, and Chrissy’s floor-focused sound design makes everything shine just a bit brighter.

This fantastical nature of these songs comes through the strongest when everything’s a bit more upbeat, though. “Another of Me,” the EP’s most effective track, traces the narrator as they journey from small-town Kansas to the big-city dancefloor, realizing they’re the only partner they need along the way. Amor’s writing is, as always, vivid and playful: “The one I dreamed of was someone who knew me / Who liked the same drugs and music and movies / And we’d never fight or have to debate about / What shows to watch or where to get take out.” The beat—a metronomic hi-hat and bass-drum rhythm turning neon with the addition of a MIDI horn section, acidic bassline, and a why-not saxophone solo—offers the hairbrush-microphone theatrics a healthy shot of drama.

Flip the tape over and you’ll find a handful of remixes, with each name pushing the originals in new directions. New-school New York dance music wunderkind Escaflowne handles “Let Me Party,” injecting it with the shuffle-and-skip of 2-step and UK garage; L.A. firestarter Bianca Oblivion takes “Another of Me,” speeding things up a notch and throwing in a heap of acid along the way. Violet and Shcuro take decidedly transformative approaches to their tracks: Violet’s edit of “Having Everything” is virtually unrecognizable thanks to its rave-ready breaks, manic synthesizers, and scene-stealing low-end, while Shcuro spins “The Same Place” into a heady blend of electro, ambient, and acid techno. The remixes are most exciting for their range, which shows freestyle stretched across oceans and decades alike. But no amount of rejiggering eclipses the core of Having Everything: throughout the EP, Community Theater encourage listeners to lace up their rollerblades and get lost in an ocean of glitter.

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