|Victoria+Jean — Divine Love (29 April 2016)|
Victoria+Jean — Divine Love (29 April 2016) ♦ Brooding cinematic pop soundtracks a budgie romance.
♦ Victoria+Jean were born between Stockholm and Brussels a little more than twenty years ago. Victoria’s tender voice was made for the electrical caresses of Jean’s guitar. Together, they write songs and roam every club on the planet from New York to Rio, before recording this first album with some mythical figures. Divine Love. For those who might still have doubts: love is divine.
Location: Stockholm, Brussels, London, EU
Album release: 29 April 2016
Record Label: FY Records
01 Divine Love 3:20
02 Holly 3:53
03 Big Billie 3:46
04 Until It Breaks 3:13
05 Why Won’t You 3:09
06 Your Baby Don’t Know Me 4:04
07 Firecracker 3:03
08 Härligt Sverige 3:52
09 Takes You Like a Rose 5:13
10 Where We Belong 3:50
11 Pull the Trigger 4:18
12 Define Love 7:12
℗ 2016 FY Records
Author: Pierre Mikaïloff
♠ There’s really no point in playing the reference game when defining Victoria+Jean; it just wouldn’t work for them. Although Victoria sings and Jean plays guitar — like thousands of others across the globe — their first album Divine Love is from another world.
♠ Victoria spent just enough time in Stockholm to enter this life, passed through London to get an education before she discovered Paris and got to know the backgrounds of fashion and music. Then comes Brussels, her meeting with Jean, an uncommonly talented musician and latent globetrotter. The Victoria+Jean duet is born. The world is little more than a village. Guitar cases scratch the floor of a Boeing whilst the artists have their noses stuck to the plane’s window as they fly off to Rio or New York. One day, filled to the brim with tales, images and notes, they realise that there’s enough raw material and songs to make an album. Their first opus reflects their lives: between cities, between flights. London, Stockholm, Paris, Brussels, New York… The album sleeve mentions some of today’s greatest sound engineers, those mysterious sorcerers who toiled on some of our favourite records, including John Parish (PJ Harvey), Ian Caple (Tricky, Tindersticks, Bashung), Christoffer Berg (Depeche Mode, The Knife, Fever Ray) and Rob Kirwan (U2, Depeche Mode, The Horrors), and the high priestess of mastering, Mandy Parnell. An eastern wind blows over the artwork in the form of Oleg Dou, an up and coming Russian contemporary artist.
♠ There’s still a lot to do from Stockholm to Moscow, going through Brussels too… Victoria+Jean’s journey starts here. Divine Love. For anyone who still doubts it: love is divine.
°» At a time when the news headlines are dominated by questions of whether greater European union is a good thing or a bad thing, perhaps the Remain camp could do worse than look at the case of Victoria + Jean. The couple, romantic as well as musical partners, consist of the Swedish Victoria on vocals and Jean from Belgium on guitar — the former used to live in Paris and was educated in England, and they got together following a chance encounter in a rehearsal room in Brussels. It’s a union that’s produced a sound which is refreshingly difficult to pigeonhole.
°» For their debut album, the couple struck on the ambitious idea of hunting down their favourite producers, and sending them tracks for them to work on. Impressively, it was an approach that worked, and so names like John Parrish (of PJ Harvey fame), Rob Kirwen (who’s worked with The Horrors), Christoffer Berg (The Knife) and Rob Kirwan are on the credits for the album. The easiest comparison would be to someone like The Kills — there’s certainly a similar, smouldering, swaggering form of blues–rock to be found on Divine Love, but there also seems to be a surprise hiding around every corner.
°» There are many aspects to Victoria+Jean’s sound on display throughout Divine Love — Holly is irresistibly poppy and bouncy, while Harlige Sverige is dreamy and laid–back, but they’re really at their best when they let rip. Your Baby Don’t Know Me is built upon layers of fiery guitar riffs as Victoria whoops and hollers as if her life depended on it, and Firecracker is utterly barmy in the best possible way: starting off sounding like Daft Punk being put through the blender, it becomes increasingly more deranged with speeded up effects, throaty screams from Victoria and a refrain of “I’ve been living on sweet cocaine”. It’s on tracks like this that you can only imagine their live show would be a huge amount of fun.
°» As you’d expect with the famous names on display in the production credits, they sometimes wear their influences a bit too close on their sleeves. Why Won’t You is a dead–ringer for To Bring You My Love–era PJ Harvey, and there are obvious nods to the likes of Goldfrapp and the avant–garde electronica of The Knife at times. Yet none of this detracts from the fact that Victoria has a truly impressive voice — just listen to the increasingly otherwordly octave on Holly — or that Jean can produce some particularly incendiary guitar work when called upon to do so. The chemistry between the two fairly sizzles out of the speaker.
°» The album is cleverly bookended by the title track and the similarly named final track Define Love — the former is all breezy, light and atmospheric, a kind of calm before the sonic storm to come, while the latter is brooding, bruised and heavy on the synths and vocal distortion, with some lyrical callbacks to the earlier song. It’s the perfect ending to what is a seriously impressive debut album, and one of the more suprisingly effective adverts for European union.
LOUIS ROBERTS, APRIL 27, 2016 / SCORE: ★★★★★
♦ Victoria+Jean are an unashamedly daring duo who have released an LP with the kind of genre-defying power that most bands don’t reach until well into their careers. ♦ Echoes of modern punk acts like Savages and Eagulls are evident, whilst equally the melodious nature of many of the tracks on Divine Love places the album in a liminal space between riotous rage and electronic euphoria. Whatever, and wherever, this band is, their debut LP is essential listening for music fans from all parts of the genre spectrum. More at: ★ http://culturefly.co.uk/victoria-plus-jean-divine-love-review/
By John Murphy | first published: 7 May 2016 | Score: ★★★★
|Victoria+Jean — Divine Love (29 April 2016)|