Artist: Waiting For Words
Title: Follow The Signs
Genre: Synth-Pop / Cold-Pop / New Wave
Release Date: 2nd January 2012
Label: Foundry Records / Infrastition
OK, France is not the country you think of when it comes to Synth-Pop /Dark / Electro style. Having said that, we can't deny French has often push the barrier of electronic music, since Jean-Michel Jarre in the late 70's to the FRENCH TOUCH lead by Laurent Garnier and more recently acts such as M83 or AIR. In this small little world, two bands lead the scene there since the mid 2000's: FORETASTE and WAITING FOR WORDS. While the "electro chic" duet appeared in 2005, WAITING FOR WORDS is active since the early 90's and is now releasing their 5th album and has been through multiple line-up changes. Synth-Pop duet in the early days, New Wave Rock version in the late 90's, to be back on the synth formula since 2004, lead by ZeN, the charismatic founder and singer of the band, and standing now on his side, his wife, Soe V, that shares vocals on 5 tracks as well as songwriting and live keyboards.
The latest album of the band is probably one of the most creative albums I've heard since years. There's a richness in sound and production that goes far beyond the pure cold synthetic VSTs and that's certainly due to the fact that ZeN's is a 90's musician, not to mention Steve Prestage on the mix... Prestage being the man who mixed some masterpieces a while ago for Peter Gabriel, JAPAN, XTC and many more. Artists coming from a time where creativity did matter. The album starts on a high tempo with ‘Follow My Voice’ and gives a good hint of what will follow: a clash between classic new wave (bass-line, choirs sounds, phased/ flanged guitar) versus electro modernity in the beat, close to EBM, and electro sounds.
Comes in next is ‘Please’, a pure Synth-Pop hit that DE/VISION could have easily release, with a touch of oriental notes reminding BLANCMANGE's early days. ‘Pain’, first vocal appearance of Soe on the album, is probably the track that could appeal the most to younger generation. As the band states itself, a kind of "NIN vs. Mirrors" style. Arpeggiated synths and big guitar riffs on top of electro rhythms and very pop vocal lines ‘Miles Away’... THE hit! Melodic, melancholic, dancy, clean production reminding a bit of Shep Bettibone's remix of ‘Behind The Wheel’ (DEPECHE MODE). An instant hit and melody sticks to your brain forever. ‘For All My Sins’ was not my favourite track of ‘The Curve EP’ (2008) but the treatment brought to the album version turns it into a great tune. The rhythm is far more dynamic and this little oriental style lift it up.
‘Out Of Control’ turns you down into a darker mood. A kind of Cold Wave merged with Trip Hop. If RECOIL would release a pop song, it would probably sound close to this. The production of this song is outstanding, especially the rhythm treatment. With ‘New Town’, the band pursues a tradition of Instrumental tracks on every album. Very analogue style and a perfect concert introduction. The band experiments various directions, free from the vocal pop format structure, using samples and very interesting effects. ‘Message’ is probably the darkest track, with the opening “Follow My Voice”, the band had released since ‘Burning Steel’ back in 1993. EBM amateurs will certainly enjoy this one. A song about modern love stories. As the band says, we moved from ‘Hold Me, Kiss Me, Love Me’ to ‘Poke Me, Buddy Me, Wizz Me’. Haunting analogue synths collapse with edgy bass, electro loops and rhythms. The voice is absolutely wonderful and this must be one of the most kick ass tracks live I guess.
‘The Curve’ is another smashing hit that should be plaid in all decent clubs! This new version mixes elements of the single version and People Theatre's remix released on the self titled EP. ‘By Your Side’ is a bit like ‘For All My Sins’. It was already one of the strongest melodies the band wrote when released on ‘The Curve EP’ but the rhythm part was really weak. It's fixed now with a strong off beat club bass, powerful drum part (mixing real live drums and programming) and some additional vocals. Could easily be another single. As per instrumentals, cover is also a tradition with WAITING FOR WORDS. While AND ONE or CAMOUFLAGE were mentioned on the band's site during the recording process, it finally comes as a surprise to see TEARS FOR FEARS' ‘Mad World’ covered. And what a cover! Slowing down the tempo was already made by Gary Jules (and long before him, the French leader of INDOCHINE, Nicola Sirkis)... what about speeding it up? And it works! Very Electro/ Rock and the duet formula works pretty good.
‘Mon Ami’ is the strangest track. For the first time ever, the duet sings in their native language. Very New Wave style in the arrangements, with some industrial percussions and a very groovy vocal line. We could easily imagine an acoustic version of it. Very emotional. ‘Signs’ is a great closing track... Haunting drums and bass, mix of trip hop / tribal with industrial sounds, deep vocals from ZeN balanced with ethereal line for Soe.
To conclude ? While FORETASTE, really disappointed me with their ‘Love On Demand’, WAITING FOR WORDS not only fulfilled all my expectations, but went far beyond. This album is definitely meant to last in time and I'm pretty sure I can listen to it again in 10 years. There's a soul, a heart, a passion in it. This album takes you on a trip for an hour, mixing in a very clever way “Synth-Pop classic formulas” with a variety of styles and influences that is very, very rare in this style. Can we even call it Synth-Pop? Some calls it Cold Pop, New Wave Electronic, Synth-Pop... Who cares in the end? That's just some damn good music that could please to anyone sensitive to melodies, good arrangements and production. That’s certainly why their fan base is large, and they tour in UK or US. But sadly though, it might also be the reason Synth-Pop promoters and medias don’t give them the attention they deserve.
What a shame this band is not in Germany! They will certainly be a serious competitor to DE/VISION and other acts. Will WGT, M’era Luna or Amphi Fest program this band one day? At least, they will be part of the "We Love Synth-Pop - The festival" with PSYCHE and other acts in January in Oberhausen...
01. Follow My Voice
04. Miles Away
05. For All My Sins (2011 Version)
06. Out Of Control
07. New Town
09. The Curve (2011 version featuring People Theatre)
10. By Your Side (2011 Version)
11. Mad World
12. Mon Ami
ZeN - Vocals, songwriting, synthesizer, programming, arrangements
Soe V - Vocals, songwriting, synthesizer
Melanoboy - songwriting, guitar, programming, arrangements
Electrocaine - Keyboards
Mycrotonik - songwriting, synthesizer, programming, arrangements
El Lute - songwriting, drums
People Theatre - synthesizer, programming, arrangements
http://www.waitingforwords.com/ / http://www.facebook.com/Waiting.for.Words
Total: 9 / 10