Arriving four years after he went viral with his “Pop Culture” mash-up, debut album Adventure sees French whiz kid Hugo Pierre Leclercq, aka Madeon, turn his back on the EDM world that he was once tipped to rule.
Inspired by his behind-the-scenes work with Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding and Two Door Cinema Club, the 20-year-old largely abandons the maximalistic electro of his earlier output in favor of a more melodic approach, assisted by a who’s-who of indie-pop vocal talent.
Bastille’s Dan Smith (“La Lune”), Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos (“Pay No Mind”) and Foster The People’s Mark Foster (“Nonsense”) all acquit themselves well over Madeon’s vibrant synth-pop production, but it’s the lesser-known names that end up stealing the Adventure show.
British newcomers Aquilo continue to stake their claim as the two-man Coldplay with the gorgeously melancholic Ghost Stories-esque electronica of “Innocence.” The soulful tones of rising R&B star Kyan perfectly complement “You’re On,” a slow-motion house-pop anthem co-written by hitmaker Jimmy Napes (Disclosure, Clean Bandit), while the skyscraping cinematic closer “Home” even sees Madeon get in on the act himself to add “vocalist” to the list of his many talents.
Unfortunately, the instrumentals are a little more formulaic, with the 8-bit samples of “Pixel Empire” and the harder-hitting production of “Imperium” offering a glimpse of what Adventure would have sounded like had its maker stuck to his early formula.
Of course, having taken such a long time to turn his YouTube-assisted fame into something more substantial, there’s a feeling that Madeon may have missed the boat altogether anyway. But although Adventure isn’t quite the ambitious musical journey promised by its title, it’s still a well-crafted diversion which just about justifies the wait.