Review: Marsheaux – Lumineux Noir

Reviewing a Marsheaux album is much like reviewing a blade of grass: beautiful in its way but identical to thousands of other blades nearby. And nothing to distinguish it from the rest, nothing to leave behind that would cause to remember and treasure that particular blade.

That said, there is an odd complexity to reviewing Marsheaux’s latest, in fact it has taken over a month to craft a short review as one struggles to come up with anything meaningful to say about inherently non-meaningful music and in the meantime finding the album really growing on your humble blogger.

This Greek electro-pop duo keeps it very, very old-school, as they have on their previous releases, Peek-a-Boo and E-Bay Queen, and they certainly get it right in terms of mood and overall sound. What they are missing – and what they missed on the previous efforts – is the energy needed to make some of these tracks pop, and make a lasting impression.

Softsynth has a number of Marsheaux tracks, from each of their albums, on the trusty iPod and listens to them regularly (number 38 out of 670 artists on our LastFM account), but honestly even after years of enjoying the band, couldn’t single out a single song of theirs by name. It’s always a matter of, “of there’s that…that Marsheaux song I sort of like”. They leave absolutely no impression. What they do, they do well, rivaling Northern Kind as one of the truly successful attempts at retro electro-pop in 2009, but they cannot distinguish themselves and Lumineux Noir is no exception. 

The best songs do try to punch their way through mediocrity. “Ghosts” is an uncharacteristically powerful stomper (and the latest use of the year’s most overused title variant within the electronic world as we’ve seen Ghost {or Ghosts} appear on new albums by Depeche Mode, Ladytron, VNV Nation, Little Boots and Client, all in the past year – sorry, we digress…) that employs a harder bass-line and more in-your-face percussion than we are used to from the ladies (though as is so often the case with Marsheaux, suffers from overly simple, pedantic lyrics:  “How does it feel/dancing alone/how does it feel when there’s no music on”. Sigh.). “So Far” is a slinky, sexy mid tempo joy. “Stand By” and lead-off single, “Breakthrough” are solid, if standard electro-dance stand-bys. There’s a lot of music here that even a casual electronic fan would enjoy (we’d even suggest *especially* a casual electronic fan), with only a few duds in the mix  (“Thousand Leds”, “Loss of Heaven”) to spoil the party. But once again, while entirely enjoyable it also remains disposable, which is a shame because these ladies have a lot of talent in reading the electronic zeitgeist and getting it pretty close to wonderful. It’s those last few inches – that space between solid and awesome – that they have yet to traverse, and Lumineux Noir doesn’t quite get them there.

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