It’s refreshing to be able to report on a major label keeping faith with one of its electronic acts in the manner Virgin have with Cassius. Three years ago the pair released their second album Au Reve, a sprawling yet oddly magnificent opus that managed to cover uplifting house with the help of Jocelyn Brown or rap with the help of Ghostface Killah. Having taken two years to record it underperformed on release, prompting the boys to put strict rules in place this time around.
Philippe Zdar and Boom Bass stuck rigidly to eight hours per song, with six hours allowed for post-production and mixing. Thus the record was completed in three weeks, and the ploy seems to have worked, the end product a fresh and invigorating record that lives up to its title.
You could hardly wish for a better start than the single Toop Toop, its garage-punk overtones and off-beat guitar teaming up with Zdar’s full-throated vocals. It makes for an uplifting opener.
And yet the albums best track could hardly be more different. Pharrell Williams is partly responsible, having written the words to go with music largely lifted from Au Reve’s opening instrumental track, delivering the vocal himself. When the opening verse complains how no one uses energy savers, car emissions kill ozone layers it would be easy to pigeon hole the song as a self-righteous environmental crusade. Nothing could be further from the truth, with the central refrain look at your life now hitting home in a deeply affecting manner.
Despite Eye Water making maximum impact in its central position the rest of the record is hardly outclassed. Later tracks Cactus and La Notte serve reminders of the boys credentials in deep, funky house music. Vocalist Gladys reappears to dress up Rock Number One, betraying ’80s influences to start with but letting its hair down further in. She then spars with boyfriend Zdar in the acid house references of 15 Again. The strong feeling of community within French dance music continues as Sebastien Tellier and Etienne de Crecy guest, the latter taking 303 duties on a couple of tracks.
Where this album really triumphs is in its structure. Electro remains as a loose coefficient of the work but the boys show themselves perfectly capable of integrating rock and house along the way. It makes for a wonderfully life affirming record, capable of humour, joy and reflection. Every home should have one.