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Hooverphonic — In Wonderland (March 18, 2016)

Hooverphonic — In Wonderland (March 18, 2016)

       Hooverphonic — In Wonderland (March 18, 2016)Hooverphonic — In Wonderland (March 18, 2016)•   Fantastic, Diverse, Collaborative.  Belgian pop band that calls on alternative, electronic, and ambient influences.  “It’s very dramatic and emotional to see a typical pop band on stage with 10 strings! Strings can make a grown boy cry and will give you goose bumps”.
Formed: 1995 in Brussels, Belgium
Location: Sint–Niklaas
Album release: March 18, 2016
Record Label: Columbia
Duration:     34:17
Tracks:
01 In Wonderland     4:38
02 I Like the Way I Dance     3:04
03 Badaboum     3:18
04 Cocaine Kids     3:18
05 Deep Forest     3:23
06 Thin Line     3:13
07 Hiding in a Song     3:10
08 Praise Be     3:03
09 God’s Gift     3:32
10 Moving     3:39
Personnel:
•   Alex Callier
•   Raymond Geerts
•   Mastered by Frederik Dejongh at Jerboa Mastering
From their website:
•   “Alex enthuses: “Until now, we always made an album for a Cinderella. We were always trying to find the right slipper for the right princess — the right song for the right voice. So we decided to turn the rational around and to look at a wide variety of slippers”. Thence the male and female voices on the album. Alex continues: “Sometimes you write songs that aren’t right for a woman, so this time we thought: why not use a man?”
•   “Hooverphonic has always been an album band,” says Alex. “Our albums were made as the soundtracks for non–existent movies. Each one had its very own atmosphere, sometimes dark and psychedelic, sometimes glamorous and playful. Some had a sixties Audrey Hepburn film vibe, whilst others were reminiscent of James Bond flicks. In Wonderland is completely different.”
•   “We’re sixties fanatics. Back then, singles were more popular than albums. Then came The Beatles’ 1966 Revolver, which drastically changed the game and became the first concept album, not just a collection of singles. In the era of Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music, we’ve gone back to square one and once again, singles are more important than albums. In Wonderland was conceived as a collection of five singles, with as many universes and flavours, with an A side and a flip B side.”
•   “In the sixties, A–sides were more marketable whereas B–sides were more abstract, more audacious. In terms of popularity, the B–side sometimes even surpassed the A–Side. That’s the concept we played with on In Wonderland because sometimes, you don’t go to the airwaves with the A–Side.”
•   The first taste we got of this album was a disastrous teaser released on their YouTube page back in October in which “Cocaine Kids” was teased along with a surreal music video in which had things like a model spreading cocaine on top of pancakes and children–version of Alex and Ray counting cash. It was not a good idea to tease this song as the first tease because the style was so different, it was jarring and not in a good way. For people who lament for a pre–2010 Hooverphonic, this was quite disappointing. It resulted in the video receiving 80% thumbs–down on YouTube.
•   I don’t know if it was done in reaction to the negative reaction to the Cocaine Kids tease, the first single that was released on YouTube was Badaboum, which is closer to the pre–2010 dream pop that a lot of Hooverphonic fans crave.
•   Now that the album is out, I have listened to it a great deal and have some thoughts. I’ll caveat this by saying that I don’t have an ear for lyrics and could not tell you what any of the songs “are about” not only for this album, but for any album. I focus solely on the instrumentation, production, and vocalist’s performance by listening on studio headphones.
•   Like Alex says above, this 10–track album features 5 singles with an A–side and a B–side with each guest vocalist being featured on both sides, and are all top notch in my opinion. Likewise, the production is fantastic with orchestration on 9 of the 10 tracks, cool samples, and the return of synthetic sounds.
•   The first two tracks feature Janie Price AKA Bird, who sounds like two different people. She has an awesome gritty voice in the first track, the titular “In Wonderland”, which sounds like Angela McCluskey if she smoked cigars for 40 years. “I Like the Way I Dance” might be my favorite track on the album.
•   “Badaboum” and “Cocaine Kids” are, in my opinion, the perfect example of Alex’s explanation, “In the sixties, A–sides were more marketable whereas B-sides were more abstract, more audacious. In terms of popularity, the B–side sometimes even surpassed the A–Side. That’s the concept we played with on In Wonderland”. Badaboum is an accessible, groovy track that will probably do well for fans and non–fans alike. The B–side “Cocaine Kids” is probably the biggest departure from what fans are expecting. Alex explains, “All these tracks are collaborations and the singers all co–wrote their tunes, which are all drastically different. Partnerships broaden your horizons; they keep you fresh and on your toes whilst allowing you to evolve. Standing still is like going backwards. Interbreeding with other artists will draw you out of your comfort zone”. The fact that Alex references the Beatles Revolver album not a coincidence as the 1966 “Tomorrow Never Knows” is directly referenced in “Cocaine Kids” from the use of the Tanpura drone to the drum rhythm to the guitar. Sonically, it is a dense song that I can appreciate since I use studio headphones that allows me to hear every layer. Not all fans will like “Cocaine Kids”, but I do. It’s fun and different. I'm not a fan of every single decision with the vocals but doesn’t detract from the rest of the track in my opinion.
•   The synth bass in conjunction with the piano and strings in “Deep Forest” are fantastic.
•   “Hiding in a Song” might be the weakest part of the album, but I enjoy Alex’s bass playing on it.
•   The last track “Moving” sounds like it could have been off their earlier album “The President of the LSD Golf Club”. The vocal composition contains Hooverphonic’s signature semitone, which always creates a cool dissonance that I always enjoy listening for when I hear a new album.
•   Overall, I think “In Wonderland” is a very diverse and strong album. The best Hooverphonic album in years. Their decision to use guest vocalists is great and I hope they continue to do so on future albums. I love the five single concept with each one having an A and B side with the guest vocalist on both. The production is clean and orchestration sounds as good as ever. Allowing the guest vocalists to co–write the songs make every track sound different and this model of collaboration reminds me of what Damon Albarn has been doing with Gorillaz.
Discography:
•   A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular (1996)
•   Blue Wonder Power Milk (1998)
•   The Magnificent Tree (2000)
•   Hooverphonic Presents Jackie Cane (2002)
•   No More Sweet Music (2005)
•   The President of the LSD Golf Club (2007)
•   The Night Before (2010)
•   Hooverphonic with Orchestra (2012)
•   Reflection (2013)
•   In Wonderland (2016)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hooverphonicoff
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hooverphonic/?fref=ts
Website: http://www.hooverphonic.com/_____________________________________________________________

Hooverphonic — In Wonderland (March 18, 2016)

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