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Malajube Trompe~L'Oeil Review

by Patrick Muldowney

Given, French is a Romantic language, but if you sing in French, must you sing seductively? This inquiry is paramount to the appreciation of Trompe~L'Oeil, and a much greater obstacle to overcome than Malajube's French lyrics. Frankly, Julien Mineau's predominantly breathy delivery could be perceived as invasive and creepy until it spirals into redundancy, which ends up leaving a greater impression than the consistently brilliant music.

"Montreal -40C" is one of the more rocking tracks, which calls for Morneau to push his voice (at points nearly screaming), so the vocals become no more annoying than the standard emo singer. It is always a bit enlightening to hear what foreign bands do with popular music, especially since they seem to be governed by circumstances other than indoctrination and capitalism (though we're currently trying to impose our ideals north of the border with the rising interest in Canadian Indie). "Montreal -40C", with a guitar line similar to Radiohead's "Iron Lung", animated synths, and melodic "pas" and "das" (American/British singers would go with "las"), is incredibly similar to the songs The Format are currently producing, which got them dropped from their label. This is the perfect reason why bands constantly pick up and move to areas considered musical hotbeds. One area's trash is another's treasure.

"Pate Filo" is the best song on Trompe~L'Oeil. Beginning with keys found in "Palisades Park", the track has an immediate youthful energy sealed with the entrance of the guitar's choppy, distorted rhythm. This is the exact arrangement which brought Arcade Fire notoriety. Also, considering the arrangement and the context (the song is about sexuality), the vocals of Mineau fit better here than at any other point on the album. If any song makes Americans remember there is a language other than English, this will be the one.

Malajube has a deep understanding of when to retard, build, and crescendo musically, making Trompe~L'Oeil a quality listen. There are definite points that do not match the minimum amount of masculinity expected in American music though, and make for a difficult sell. Beyond individual tracks like "La Russe", which would find little mainstream acceptance, the repeated theatrical interludes of high pitched screaming paralleled with breathy verses make Malajube a possible gem to only the most open-minded listeners.

Tracks added to iPod: Montreal -40C, Pate Filo

CD Info and Links

Malajube Trompe~L'Oeil

Label:Ninja Tune

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