Thursday, August 1, 2013

Contre Jour – Passion and Fall (2013)

Contre Jour
Passion and Fall
Buy It

Cold wave French act Contre Jour is back with an amazing new album. “Passion and Fall” confirms the band’s outstanding debut with “One night at the station” in 2010. Contre Jour is composed of Roxy (vocals), Christof (bass, keyboards, programming) and Manu (guitars, keyboards, other instruments). Since their first release, they have moved from a bass driven cold wave to a slightly more synthpop sound, but the overall atmosphere is still exquisitely dark and mysterious. “Passion and Fall” creates immediate addiction by offering a kaleidoscope of the band’s atmospheres and influences topped with Roxy’s captivating vocals. 

The album starts with “The Fall”, a hypnotic, cold, slow paced track, which works as a perfect introduction. You’ll find yourself immediately captured by a cold, eerie atmosphere. With “Nonsense”, the band takes you a bit further, as velvet-like vocals alternate with male back vocals in the chorus, bringing a certain roughness to such elegant song. “A step forward” is elegant, cold and sensual, intoxicating like champagne. “85” is an electro/pop song. The use of vocoder and catchy chorus make it seem like a happy track, but lyrics are not so optimistic, as always with Contre Jour. “Enfance” has parts when child-like vocals combine with a post punk oppressive sound, creating a disturbing effect. “Understanding” also has a post punk feel. “Les Appelés” reminds of the first album’s track “A Contre Jour”. It is one of the two tracks in French on the release, and one of the catchiest synthpop songs it has. Eighties’ new wave at its best. It’s great to hear such good tracks sung in French.  Short instrumental track “Mirage” offers gloom, and reminds me of The Cure’s “Carnage Visors”. “Diseased” and its pop takes you to more optimistic grounds, but not for long, as “Rosalia”, the other track in French, follows close and brings you back to the dark. Strong rhythmic, inspired guitar, it’s a real dark wave wonder, close to Depeche Mode’s latest works. “Old Age” is one of my favourites. Although it’s almost gothic rock, with hammering drums, and the most guitar-oriented track, it doesn’t lack the elegance and sensuality of the rest of the album. “Our medicine” and “Wild” have a very eighties’ feel that can remind Siouxsie and the Banshees. Last listed track on the disc, “Bittersweet” sounds like a speeded up gothic rock track, very original and surprising.

With “Passion and Fall” Contre Jour has managed to overcome expectations after their brilliant debut album. Although they are usually listed under cold wave, they have a unique sound made of their many influences, from eighties’ new wave and post-punk, to nineties’ trip hop and current electronic music. The band’s passion for production is palpable on each track, filled with textures, rich and complex. Contre Jour is for sure one band to follow. I am particularly proud to say it is a French band! Congratulations to them for this wonderful album!  

Guillaume Renard