Villeneuf played the support slot for Moke in the LVC in Leiden recently and I have to say I've discovered a new band I like. The gig left me wanting to hear more. So I bought the album online to support the band and find out more. Does the band deliver in the MP3 format as well? (Mind there is no cd. Villeneuf opted for artwork and MP3.)
I can be very short as far as this question is concerned. Villeneuf delivers and more, as I have been playing the album ever since. Great waste of time has a mystical touch to it, that exhumes itself on the listener, much like a band like Midlake also has. It was no coincidence that Midlake's best song 'Roscoe' was played just before or right after Villeneuf's gig. Midlake goes straight back to The Moody Blues. Beneath this organic sound, Villeneuf co-opts for electric beats and bleeps which a band like Trio experimented with in the early 80s. 'Cities will burn' has this beat, making a better song than Trio ever made as Villeneuf injects a song, melody and a sixties like mellotron sound, thus vibe over the electronic foundation. In short creating beauty.
Another major influence seems to be Coldplay. The piano intro of 'She's moving like the seventies', Villeneuf's take on a disco song, is Chris Martin. ', WV',a small song, could also have been recorded by Coldplay on 'Parachutes', its its first album. More in singing and melody than in the way the song was recorded, as Villeneuf shies away from Coldplay and moves straight into the Midlake realm from the moment the flute kicks in. The arrangement of ', WV' is bare but inventive with the flute and the harmonies. I'm just summing up some of the finer qualities of Villeneuf here.
The mix between what humans are capable of doing and what they can extract from electronics is nearly impeccable on Great waste of time. 'Song for lion' is all electronics, even the voice of Michiel van Poelgeest is treated with a device, while the human angle, the melody, is fully intact. This makes the song very intriguing to listen to.
'Talk show host' takes this mix to another level. A superior song, great melody and fantastic singing, with surprising interjections in counter singing. The electric drums drives the tempo forward, an electric guitar boosts the song with strong playing and keyboards and singing provide the atmosphere that characterises Great waste of time. Villeneuf even gets away with an up tempo almost dance song 'She's moving like the seventies', giving the album more diversity and strength.
Not all is good on this album. I have no patience for the rhythm of 'Song about a whole bunch of stuff', no matter how intriguing the title. It reminds me faintly of the two hits of Rupert Holmes, not necessarily something I have a strong urge for being reminded of. One other small comment is that live the duo harmonies between Van Poelgeest and Lucas Meijers are more pronounced than on record. Van Poelgeest double tracks his own voice more on record. Having said that, there are enough strong points on Great waste of time that have won me over, including the multi-layered harmonies.
Great waste of time goes out in style with the intricate 'Don't yell'. A feast of voices that sing the slightly happy, somewhat melancholy chorus, bouncing of each other creating something that I just love to listen to, inviting me to start with 'Agatha Christie' all over again.
So, another Dutch band that caught my attention lately, deserving that attention too. Villeneuf mixes a few influences to an intriguing sound, creating its own voice along the way. Perhaps not fully unique, but done extremely well, putting Villeneuf at the top of their game.
An interview with Villeneuf's Michiel van Poelgeest will be on the blog in a few weeks.