Review: The Eclectic, Starry Midnight Nostalgia Of ‘Renegade Breakdown’ By Marie Davidson & L’ŒIL NU

Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu | Renegade BreakdownNinja Tune

Release Date: 25 September, 2020

This album is about following your instinct, returning to your roots, and building on them to do something new and different. 

The works of Marie Davidson can be described as nothing short of kaleidoscopic; powerful, emotive and even wonderfully irreverent, bold and satirical – her highly unique take on electronic music caused tidal waves in the industry when she released her debut album ‘Working Class Woman’ in 2018. 

Lauded for her outstanding skill as an artist along with her unapologetic approach to calling out sexism in the music industry, Davidson’s ‘Working Class Woman’ became critically acclaimed, her distinct blend of techno and house – as well as her feminist approach – made her truly stand out from often oversaturated genres in a disappointingly male dominated industry.

However, during her 2019 tour across North America and Europe, Davison became disillusioned with club culture, with the destructive cycles of the touring lifestyle and overall scene finding her burnt out and ready for something new.

In her latest release, sporting a sound that was completely unexpected (in a good way!) along with a new band by her side, Davison has returned under the banner of Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu: made up of Davidson, Pierre Guerineau and Asaël R. Robitaille – the trio cherishing their longtime friendship from their early days in the Montreal DIY scene, with the former pair partners in their project ‘Essaie pas‘. 

We wanted to make songs, like the music we’ve been enjoying altogether for more than a decade.

With the release of ‘Renegade Breakdown’ by Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu, we see something completely different than Davison’s previous works, and the captivating eclecticism of such makes this record truly stand out; a mesmerising, hypnotizing experience teeming with personality and an electrifying new sound.

Tracks such as ‘Back To Rock’ and ‘Worst Comes To Worst’ capture the aura of the classic songwriting techniques of the 70’s and 80’s almost effortlessly; Davison’s introspective, velveteen vocals blossom amidst slow, steady percussion with the oscillation of lush synths, ebbing and flowing amongst the distortion of rhythmic guitars in ‘Back To Rock’ – reminiscent of a deeply immersive, nostalgic theatrical rock opera – dotted with atmospheric 80’s electronics.

‘Worst Comes To Worst’ shimmers vividly in its upbeat, joyful dance shimmering with the prismatic shards of a disco ball on the dancefloor – with the trio’s adoration of classic disco glittering with cut-up distorted guitars, bouncy funk-esque basslines and Davidson’s powerful vocals.

C’est parce que j’m’en fous’ gleams with Davidson’s signature playful, yet courageous and daring personality shining through in her time-honoured French electro beat and spoken word lyrics – the song title translates to simply ‘It’s Because I Don’t Care.’ which is a signature style for Davidson that we know and love, with self-assured claps and layers of electronic as well as traditional textures – metallic hits, steady cowbell strikes and even chiming bells – sculpting a danceable and experimental pop-track studded with alien tides of contemporary synths.

Lead Sister’ takes a completely different direction; cloaked in a midnight soundscape, the darkness and melancholia of the track is clear: with the subject matter revolving around the tragic story of Karen Carpenter – of The Carpenters – who suffered from, and subsequently died due to complications caused by the devastating disorder that is anorexia, along with exploring the psychological abuse which Karen suffered behind closed doors despite The Carpenters outward “All-American” facade, Davidson is unafraid to explore the darker aspects of the work which inspires her, or she relates to – with this track a stark contrast with its shadowy, atmospheric yet ghostly beauty.

With the album artwork representing three different versions of Davison – the willingness to explore a sound so entirely different to what we’ve heard before while still retaining the brilliant, often satirical personality she incorporates into her music – ‘Renegade Breakdown’ is perhaps one of her best works yet as her collaboration as a trio with L’Œil Nu brings something entirely new to the table – diving headfirst into the experimental with an admirably dynamic offering.

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Rating: 8.5 / 10

Feature Image: Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu by Jocelyn Michel