1998 was my first ever time at CMJ New Music Marathon, and my first ever show was a Virgin Records showcase with Gomez, Placebo, and Whale. Whale went on first. Singer Cia Berg was onstage with just one other member of the band playing keys. They performed their first song that way, and it being 1998 and all, it seemed pretty much right. A ton of electronica leaning bands in 1998 did live performances that way. It was pleasant and all, but I braced myself for a pretty dull 30-45 minutes. Then, a bunch of 80's metal looking dudes ran onto the stage, put on instruments, and rocked out the rest of Whale's set.
I had this in mind while listening to Whale's 20 year old album All Disco Dance Must End in Broken Bones. Whale aren't nearly as electronica as I remember them being. They definitely have a distinctly rock sound. Well, rock morphed by late 90's Britpop with the metal influence all Swedish bands tend to have. The album starts off much more fun and less serious than I remember with songs like "Deliver the Juice." It's immediately followed up by "Roadkill," which sounds like Portishead with all sense of groove eliminated. "Losing CTRL" has full on flashes of hard rock. That seems to be the story with All Disco Dance Must End in Broken Bones. It's by no means a bad album. But it just never seems to be able to fully commit to either being chilled electronica or full on rock. They're more interesting and fun when they let their metal flag fly, much like how their live show was. Unfortunately, metal wasn't very big in 1998 so they tried for more of an electronic sound. This leads to All Disco Dance Must End in Broken Bones just making you want to listen to bands that did that sound better.