Jun 17, 2013

[REVIEW] @JuvenilesBand (Self Titled Debut Album) 9/10


A few years back I stumbled across a video on Youtube by a French duo called Juveniles which consists of Jean-Sylvain Le Gouic and Thibaut Doray. The track, "We Are Young" had an amazing video that was simultaneously enthralling, exciting and bat shit bizarre.  Imagine everyone that ever got turned down from a Harmony Korrine film for being too crazy and dangerous looking, and you start to get the picture.

Once I started playing it I immediately felt a smile hit my face as this was exactly the type of music I loved.  I'm a fan of all types of music, and my iPod has music from all over the musical spectrum from Opera to Hip Hop to Jazz, Funk, Blues, Rock, Country, Bluegrass, you name it I've probably got at least one song from that genre.

My absolute favorite types of music fall into three categories.


1.  I love hip hop, preferably 90's hip hop.  That was the golden age and back when hip hop was just fun (with the occasional murder to throw us out of the fun rhythm).   Nowadays it's just...not fun.  Or at least not as fun.

2.  I love 90's pop music.   Especially one hit wonders.  Something about that really livens up the areas of my brain that make me happy.  I could spend entire days and nights watching those VH1 "One Hit Wonders" countdown shows with the comedians and whatnot.  I actually spent a New Years Eve like that once house sitting for my parents. lol.

3.  I love anything that mixes genres.  Some examples include Finnish band "Apocalyptica" who plays heavy metal on Cellos.  Or Brooklyn based group "Gangstagrass" who combine hip hop and bluegrass into a very cohesive and addictive combination, and received an Emmy nomination for the theme song to the hit FX series "Justified".

However there is a fourth that I had completely forgotten how much I enjoyed it, and it was brought back to me in a slam bang way as soon as I hit play on the video, which I've included below.

Yeah, that's the stuff.  That synth pop/New Wave shit.  THAT is what I had been missing in my life.  Man I can't really describe what it felt like when I first heard Juveniles music, and how I've felt listening to this album for the past couple hours on repeat.  I think if I had to sum it up in one word it'd be....Nostalgia.

Nostalgia is an appropriate description, I think.  Your miles may vary, but for me, when I started listening to this, it brought me back to the 80's when I was a kid (I turned 15 in 1990) and listening to the radio constantly.  Artists like Duran Duran, Soft Cell, Culture Club, Depeche Mode and others were ones that really kinda got my feet going and made me want to dance everywhere.

I remember that there were people who seemed to turn their noses up at synth pop which I never understood.  As I grew older I became more aware of music snobs who feel that their views of how music should be is how music should be, and anyone who deviates from that are abominations or whatever.   I remember a lot of ugliness from some people I knew about synth pop and for whatever reason most of those criticisms involved gay baiting attacks, which in my mind kind of rendered them completely irrelevant.  If you can't argue your points without calling someone a "Fag" or whatever, then you've lost the right to argue your point.

I personally loved it, and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for synth or electro pop.  However it has to be good music.  I've heard some bad synth pop over the years, especially in the last 10 years or so as it seems to be making a comeback.  There's lots of groups out there that have no damn business messing with it.  They need to put their synthesizer down and back way.  Pick up a guitar and go play at a coffee house or something.  It's not for you.
Juveniles though have nailed it perfectly.  They know exactly what synth pop is supposed to be and what it's not.  And the weird thing in this is that I have zero idea how to express what it's supposed to be.  It's one of those "well you know it when you hear it" types of things.  Basically it's the pornography argument of "you know it when you see it".  Well in this case, when you hear them play, when you hear the music, when you hear how perfectly the music is, it just all clicks.  It just works.

This is a band that clearly has love and respect for the genre and are not someone that is simply jumping on the bandwagon to try to get ahead.  You can tell those who don't really have a love for the genre.  Their music is just lacking anything that moves you.  It lacks anything that reaches out and grabs you and holds on refusing to let go.

This album is beautiful synth pop music for those who love synth pop music.  It's a wonderful trip back to the time when synth pop was huge, and you had these now legendary bands showing up on the scene.

The album has 13 tracks (including two remixes) and I'm not sure there's any weak tracks on here, although the two remixes aren't really my thing.  They're highly listenable and they're fun, but I think the original versions (also included on the album) are much superior to the remixes.

I think my favorite tracks (aside from We Are Young, which I'm glad was included on here, despite coming out a year or two ago) are "Logical", "Through The Night", "Strangers", "Elisa", "Washed Away" and "Void (In and Out of The)".  As I said though, there's really no weak tracks here.  There's nothing that makes you want to reach for the skip button or fast forward.   Even the remixes, which I wasn't high on, aren't bad.  I just liked the originals much better.

In all honesty, this is the 1st album I've listened to in quite some time where I just let it rock on repeat and now it's on it's third go around.   I have a bad case of ADD which affects my attention span and my focus.  Usually I'll start listening to something, then get sidetracked by a video online and pause the music to watch that, then end up on other stuff, and then hours later I suddenly remember that I have the album paused on track 2, and then never end up getting back to it.

With this album, though, I've had none of that.  It's the first album I can remember where that didn't happen.  This is wonderful nostalgia for me, and I am still kind of stunned by how much I'm loving this album.  In fact, I think the most amazing thing about it is that it's got me reviewing it.  I've reviewed a lot of albums in the past on here, but I haven't reviewed anything in quite awhile, and I hadn't planned on reviewing anything else.  Of course what's that joke? How do you make God laugh?  Make a plan.

Now one thing to keep in mind is that this is, at this point, only available in France.  So it's not available on the US versions of Amazon.com/Amazon MP3 or Itunes.  However you CAN get one of their EP's with Kitsune on Amazon MP3.  I'm not sure whether, if you are in the United States or outside of France, if you can buy this one off of the Amazon MP3 Store or not.  You may have to import it, however it's definitely worth it.

The album is the best I've heard in a long damn time.   Everyone needs to put down that #Yeezus album and pick this album up.  You won't be disappointed, I guarantee it.

I haven't heard anything in 2013 that I can recommend any higher than this.

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