|part of:||Nicolas Di Lollo: Top Ten Albums of 2009 (number: 3) (order: 3)|
Gala de l’ADISQ: Album de l’année – Alternatif (number: 2009 – Gagnant) (order: 52)
Polaris Music Prize nominees (number: 2009) (order: 64)
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Malajube are a four piece from Canada, refreshing in their resolute decision to make music only in their native French, despite the commercial pressure for them to appeal to the English-speaking masses. The thing is, if the quartet keep on making tunes this catchy, les Anglais are going to keep loving them regardless.
They've got things to prove on the follow up to 2004's Le Compte Complet and 2006's multi award-winning Trompe-l'Oeil. Will Labyrinthes match the latter's three Juno nominations, a Felix award for Revelation Of The Year and two at l'Autre Gala ADISQ including Alternative Album Of The Year? And that's not to mention the nomination for the 2006 Polaris Prize – the Canadian equivalent of the Mercury Prize. Well, the boys have spent almost a year writing this third album and the care and attention they've lavished upon it shows. Their off-kilter pop is charming, stunning and daring with lush musical layers and more pace switches than you can keep up with.
Part dreamy ethereal, part pop rockin', the thrills start at the beginning and just keep building. There's more than a hint of Sebastien Tellier in epic six-and-a-half-minute album opener Ursuline - and plenty of time for some serious shoegazing, while at the other end of the scale, Heresie is short, snappy and sweet at a little under two minutes.
Malajube touch on ska in Porte Disparu, go all radio-friendly on Luna and even throw in spaghetti western guitars on Casablanca. Tout-puissant (The Almighty) is perfect dream-pop but the highlight of the album is the cute, uplifting Dragon de Glace – which has hints of Mika and is guaranteed to leave you grinning.
That's what this album's all about, really: beaming, cheerful music. It doesn't matter that your long-neglected GCSE-Level French barely catches one word in five – it's all about the tunes. In Labyrinthes, Malajube are certainly packing them in abundance.