Malajube have the skill of making even their most outré ideas appear part of the same...
Louis Pattison 2007-04-26
The Canadian indie-rock renaissance led by the Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene has, perhaps understandably, focused on the nation’s English-speaking acts. Nothing wrong with a whiff of the exotic, of course, but it’s always easier to capture a distant pair of ears if they’re attached to a mouth that can sing along. Despite the obvious language barrier, however, it’s not hard to see why Malajube - a band of French-speaking Canadians from Montréal, Québec (the name is pronounced ‘MAL-a-zhoob’) have captured fans whose last brush with Français was a weekend booze-cruise to Calais.
Trompe-L’Oeil, the quartet’s second album, walks a tightrope of high drama, conjuring up some of the minstrels-of-the-apocalypse theatre of The Arcade Fire, but adding enough new elements to neatly snip all talk of them being coat tail-riders off at the hem. It’s a delirious party spirit Malajube conjure up, but there’s things at work beyond their garrulous energy - a strange, layered complexity. One that sees sounds, melodies, and choruses spirited into life and suddenly dismissed as quickly as they appeared. '‘Ton Plat Favori'’ is almost effervescent in its joyfulness, a romping piano cavalcade the band chirp along to with bird calls and cheeky lip rolls. Meanwhile ‘Montreal-40°C’ is a whirl of squelchy keyboards, prettified acoustic guitar and sprightly bass that neatly skirts the sing-along conundrum by building into a “Ba-ba-ba!” chorus that should be beyond anyone’s grasp.
And if Malajube sometimes sound tireless in energy, it’s to their credit they’re often tireless in inventiveness, as well. ‘'La Russe'’ is a mid-album diversion of Jean Michel Jarre synthesisers and skittering beats that features a vocal from Loco Locass, a politicised French-language hip-hop crew also from Quebec. ‘'Casse-Cou'’, meanwhile, skids between helium-voiced headbang moments, lullaby lulls, and jaunty ska guitar. If this all sounds confusing, well, yes, it can be, but Malajube have the skill of making even their most outré ideas appear part of the same wild-eyed, ecstatic cavalcade.