Victoria+Jean – Divine Love

V-J-_RingMasterReview

From the gorgeous artwork by Russian artist Oleg Dou through to the cinematic seducing which escapes each and every song, Divine Love is creative beauty involved with an imagination which simple leaves the listener lost in fascination. The imagination comes from Victoria+Jean, the episodes of aural drama from their debut album, and the brooding romance between listener and artist from instincts that just know when something transcends just ear food.

The band is the artistic and romantic union of Swedish born vocalist Victoria and Belgian guitarist Jean. Brought up in London and moving to Paris where she began her first career as a model, Victoria was a musician at heart and was signed as a solo artist aged 16 by a French major label, though she broke her four-album deal before releasing her debut, unable to make the compromises demanded upon her by the label. Moving to Belgium she met Jean and the couple began a career “motivated by encounters, travels and sound.” We have simplified the background for and leading to the project and union of the pair, with not for the first or indeed last time, Divine Love demanding to be the focus of attention.

art_RingMasterReviewIn creating the album, the duo sent their 12 tracks to their favourite producers with the request of collaboration for the release. The list included the likes of John Parish (PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp), Rob Kirwan (The Horrors, Depeche Mode), Christopher Berg (The Knife), Ian Caple (Tricky, Kate Bush), Joe Hirst (Stone Roses), Alistair Chant (PJ Harvey & John Parish), and Lucas Chauvière (De La Soul). As evidence of things being meant to be, each freely chose the same track Victoria+Jean had intended and hoped for them; a move and success which only adds to the album’s vastly diverse and eclectic character.

Divine Love opens with its title track and the duo’s new single. Within seconds the electronic mystique and ambience of the track has ears and imagination enthralled, the sixties cinematic drama in tone and air providing a great sense of mystery reinforced by the celestial caresses of Victoria’s mesmeric vocals. The gentle and elegant jangle of guitar equally brings rich suggestiveness to the enveloping theatre of dark charm and atmospheric tempting. There is no escaping a Portishead like essence to the bewitching encounter though equally artists like Propaganda and in a small way The Sugarcubes also offer their scent to its evocation.

It is a glorious start followed by the ridiculously irresistible Holly. From an initial lure of fuzzy guitar and mischievous beats, the song soon swings along with a virulent infectiousness which barely needs a handful of seconds to have hips swaying and spirit smiling. Victoria’s voice dances upon the compelling strands of sound, mixing composed moments with soaring harmonics as rhythms dance with addictive tenacity. As provocative in word as it is in sound, the track is sensational; growing with each twist of its musical theatre and lust inspiring alchemy.

Big Billie comes next, coaxing ears with raw blues guitar before thumping rhythms surround the tangy expressive tones of Victoria. Jean’s imagination continues to weave a sultry web of sound and enterprise to surround the tribal beats and descriptive vocals; a provocative blend playing like a mix of The Creatures and My Baby. Enthralling and igniting the senses it makes way for Until It Breaks and its brooding climate of sinister shadows and electronic espionage. As all songs, it has the imagination casting its own adventures to align with that of the song itself, sparking closer involvement between ears and song which is echoed again by Why Won’t You and its delta blues laced tango.

Across the fiery sonic and rhythmic trespass of Your Baby Don’t Know Me and Firecracker, things only get more boldly flirtatious and grouchily confrontational. The first is a prowling beast of a track with a touch of De Staat to its predacious noise rock infested waltz whilst its successor, while employing a similar dark rhythmic throb, courts techno fuelled ingenuity. It is a collusion which just gets more dynamic, agitated, and schizophrenic across its three body involving minutes, like its predecessor inciting a greedier appetite for Divine Love before a haunting beauty cast with a vibrant calm hugs ears through Härligt Sverige. Tantalising harmonies float around the poetic tones of Victoria, they skirted by resonating beats and the low key repetitive niggle of guitars. Winy tendrils vein the piece too; Jean creating an increasingly climactic drama matched by the vocal emotion equally gripping attention.

Ears and pleasure become engrossed in more blues bred invention through Takes You Like A Rose and Where We Belong next, the latter tempering the flavour with a bewitching folk seeded hug of melody and harmony before creating a tempestuous showdown of sound and emotive theatre. It is a glorious slice of aural cinema, again visual interpretation quickly inspired by the song and indeed Pull The Trigger which follows. Rhythms and percussive enterprise tease and play with ears before hitting an imposing stride entangled in sonic and vocal imagination. Anthemic and intimate within every writhing twist and turn of its excellent proposal, the track is like a hex on body and thought.

Closing with the epic spatial and atmospheric romancing of Define Love, an immersion into electronic and vocally harmonic reflection, Divine Love is one of the most enthralling and in turn invigorating releases heard in a long time. Every song provides an individual and compelling exploration still revealing fresh rewards after numerous listens. The album has plenty for fans of blues and rock ‘n’ roll, ambience and electronica, pop and dance and with a host of videos also accompanying each song, Divine Love is nothing less than essential listening and viewing.

Divine Love is released April 29th via FY Records at https://itunes.apple.com/be/album/divine-love/id1089239770?app=itune and across most online stores.

http://www.victoriaplusjean.com   https://www.facebook.com/victoriaplusjean

Pete RingMaster 26/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better

 

johnny foreigner pic

     After the ridiculously appetising and resourceful persuasion of previous album Vs Everything in 2011, it is fair to say that the anticipation and excited intrigue for the new release from Johnny Foreigner was making intensive demands before a note was heard. You Can Do Better, the fourth full-length from the English quartet does not disappoint. It is another teasing and tantalising bewitchment of the already distinctive sound of the Birmingham band but one which delves deeper into their unique landscape of songwriting and imagination. As much as the previous album enraptured and enthralled, in hindsight it was maybe too ambitious in its bulk of seventeen tracks to avoid being a mix of the brilliant with simply the satisfying, which was a triumph all the same. Consisting of a mere ten songs plus a hidden treat, You Can Do Better stalks the sun side of unpredictable and magnificence from start to finish with offerings which maybe do not always master the same pinnacles of the last release but stands alongside it and with a richer impressive consistency across its adventurous narrative and sound.

    Recorded with long-time friend Dominique James (Sunset Cinema Club) once again and the first release with new guitarist Lewes Herriot alongside vocalist Alexei Berrow, bassist Kelly Southern, and drummer Junior Elvis Washington Laidley, the Alcopop! Records released You Can Do Better has been eighteen months in the making. Berrow recently gave an ‘introduction’ to the album by saying “For the last year we’ve been messing around behind yr backs. It started with robbing drum intros from Blink 182 and ended with horns stolen from Screaming Maldini and in the middle we had these 10 (11) little encounters with a louder noise than you’d possibly be happy about. And if that sentence wasn’t enough of a secret map, we created an entirely probably fictional city for the whole mess to live in. Bands are supposed to mellow as they get older, idk quite what’s gone wrong“. As the release leaps upon and engagingly taunts the senses we can certainly confirm that Johnny Foreigner has not mellowed in presence or exploratory adventure.

    Band and album rampage through ears from the first punk bred breath of opener Shipping, a tsunami of noise and rhythms coverengulfing the senses like the jaw of a sandworm in Dune. The entrance smothers and takes the listener into its cavern of shadows before expelling a loud graze of sonic endeavour and richly gripping hooks. The distinctive voice of Berrow is soon taking over centre stage as the song’s narrative entwines the imagination, extra suasion from the equally individual tones of Southern adding extra bait to the temptation. With a throaty bass coaxing from the lady only adding to the spice alongside the rattling rhythms of Laidley and the wonderful emerging consumptive discord, the track is a maelstrom of enterprise and unpredictability engaging and provoking thoughts and emotions.

   The impressive start is exceeded by the brilliant Le Sigh, a track which slowly and mischievously walks into view before unveiling a glint in its eye as its persistently raises its energy and pace, easily drawing a greedy appetite for its thickening brew of synapse seduction through its indie dance of sonic bluster and twisted guitar twang. With the devilry of say Baddies and the almost belligerent ingenuity of The Sugarcubes mixed with the sultry temptation of Morningwood all laid in a bed of eighties discord, the track is a masterful temptress of rapacious rock revelry. The repetitive chant of the chorus with its minimal cladding also brings thoughts of Japanese band The Plastics, not so much in direct sound but simply the aural addictiveness.

    The following In Capitals also takes a reserved gait to its invitation and equally builds a feisty compelling wall of bruising garage punk like enticement through raw guitars and magnetic vocals within a shuddering rhythmic frame. The bass of Southern pulls on a bordering on carnivorous growl for its prowl whilst the sonic confrontation of the guitars comes as a weave of acidic senses scorching enterprise. The power and imagination of sound here and for most tracks steals the spotlight initially with the rewards of the lyrical adventure and imagery coming in stronger potency through further encounters, this making the album a constant treasure trove to plunder.

    Both the subdued caress of mystery from Riff Glitchard and the almost disorientating sonic brawl of The Last Queens of Scotland ignite the passions with their individual premises and inventive traps. The first is a slow smoulder of self-tempering textures and emotion hues; bass snarls contrasting guitar and vocal melodies with mesmeric emotive dependencies, whilst its successor is another fire of rabid rhythmic twists and guitar sculpted toxicity tempted and encouraged to push its limited by the equally vivacious and voracious dual vocal waltz. Being a sucker for discord in any form, it has to be said that by this point Johnny Foreigner has a tight grip with their one of a kind seduction.

    Stop Talking About Ghosts flirts and romps with ears next, its entwining of bracing and disharmonious eagerness with reserved elegant shadows eventually merging into a greater transfixing anthemic riot of exhaustive rock ‘n’ roll before the more pronounced stalking enticement of Wifi Beach next takes over. It is a song which took longer to convince than others, its reflective and enjoyably messy soaking of the ears a deceptive slice of noise sculpting which without lighting fires proves to be one more highly pleasing provocation to immerse in. The same can be said about To The Death and Le Schwing in many ways, neither pulling out with ears that instantaneous connection of earlier songs but evolving over time into thrilling incitements, the first of the two especially persuasive with its riveting surface explosions of discord aligned to a rhythmic tango contrasting and provoking the song’s heavily shadowed emotional presence. The second of the pair sways and swaggers with a vague similarity to that elsewhere on the album, its body familiar but dressed in new hooks and mischief which ultimately leaves satisfaction and pleasure full.

    The closing antagonist, DEVASTATOR is a strong enough conclusion to a great album but arguably a little underwhelming against previous songs, though the ‘hidden’ song To The Deaf which emerges from the silence after, is a compelling epilogue which has the album leaving on a greater high. With You Can Do Better, whilst retaining all the qualities and invention which made Johnny Foreigner an irresistible proposition, the band has evolved their presence into an even more unique and rather thrilling encounter through a quite outstanding album.

http://www.johnnyforeignertheband.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 09/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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