Rave Age

by: Vitalic

While Rave Age's title may seem as outdated as the name of Vitalic's second album Flashmob did initially, it's actually a fitting umbrella for this set of songs. Given EDM's record popularity at the time of the album's release, the spirit behind raves -- if not the sound of the music that originally sparked the phenomenon in the late '80s and early '90s -- was thriving, and Pascal Arbez nods to how dance music came full circle, while adding a few twists of his own. "Rave Kids Go" kicks off the album with the filtered tones and simple but driving beats that Vitalic is known for, but is more straightforwardly EDM in its sound and spirit, while the glow-stick insistence of "No More Sleep"'s siren-like synths shows that Arbez is trying to capture the feel of the dancefloor as well as write tracks that make it move. Despite the presence of tracks that feel like they could have appeared on OK Cowboy or Flashmob, such as the revved-up sample-fest that is "Stamina" or "Vigipirate"'s electro-drumline feel, Arbez spends most of Rave Age proving that he has more tricks up his sleeve than the sound he perfected with singles like "Poney." His most surprising move is using living, breathing vocalists such as Shitdisco's Joe Reeves and Sexy Sushi's Rebekah Warrior instead of his venerable voice software Brigitte. This change allows him to venture into much more pop territory than before, as on "Fade Away" and "Under Your Sun," which sacrifice some danceability for prettiness, as well as add some humanity to harder-edged tracks like "La Mort Sur Le Dancefloor" and "Next I'm Ready," both of which define Rave Age at its best. However, the album's most interesting moments are its instrumentals, where Arbez' creativity really gets to play. "Nexus" could easily appear on a sci-fi movie soundtrack with its subtle, simmering electronics, while "The Legend of Kaspar Hauser" cultivates a horror vibe, nodding to the music of John Carpenter and Mike Oldfield as well as the true story of a 19th century German boy who claimed to be raised in a cell. At times, Rave Age feels like it's missing some of the spark of Vitalic's previous work, but Arbez manages to pull off a lot of changes on this album while retaining enough of his playful atmosphere and kinetic rhythms to keep fans engaged. ~ Heather Phares

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