Pascal Arbez—or better known as Vitalic—has been fueling EDM culture with his emotional techno beats for over a decade. Coming up at a time when bangers where the thing, it would be easy at first glance to throw him in with that sound. But by doing this, you would be totally missing the point. Vitalic’s songs are emotionally driven unlike any other type of electro coming out these days. In many songs the drops take a back seat and instead you go on an all-out ride through multiple emotions.
His first two albums both have distinctive sounds. His first album OK Cowboy sounds like it could fit between Daft Punks’ “Human After All” and Justice’s “Waters of Nazareth” 12-inch. On his second album Flashmob we saw him taking on a more disco sound, distancing himself from his previous release. Both albums work respectably. They are actually some of my favorite albums to date.
This is why to my misfortune I have to give his new album a somewhat negative review. In his new album Rave Age we see Arbez doing almost too much. The album is all over the place. A lot of the songs seem forced. Take for example the lead single off the album “Rave Kids Go,” it is a cheesy take on modern day electro. Trying to mimic what he did on OK Cowboy does not work here. Gone is all the emotion and what is left seems like an Ed Banger B-side. That is not to say that Arbez is not still able to channel his inner electro successfully on this album. “Stamina” comes off beautifully. Mixing a very audacious drop with a fun, albeit somewhat cheesy, background vocal and it works here.
The more melodic songs are hit and miss as well. Either the streamlined vocals work or they don’t. For instance “Under Your Sun" is a beautiful track with accompany vocals from Owlle. However “La Mort Sur Le Dance Floor” just sounds like a B-side from a Crystal Castles album but in French. In my opinion the most successful song that represents what Vitalic stands for on the album has to be the beautifully crafted “Fade Away" because of its simplicity. It is a straightforward gorgeous song that makes the album worth picking up.
The bottom line is this is just an average album from a very good producer. He tries to do too much; if he would just take a step back some of the songs they could be awesome. Don’t let this review however dismiss his live show. It is one not to miss. He is debuting a brand new live show at the moment and it will be only time till it comes over to the states. Fittingly when I saw him last November he was playing in a palace in London. I recommend that everyone go out and check him out live if you have the chance.
Mixmag is streaming the album, you can have a listen here.