I wasn't prepared for this. I'm not sure I ever could have been, either. One for Jude might have been around for a decade now, and this their sixth album release, but they're new to me. Even in this age of globalisation, some bands don't get much coverage outside of their homeland and a few select places beyond. So it would appear to be with One For Jude, who've been doing their thing in France and around the mainland, as well as being picked up by a Russian label, without grabbing anyone's attention here or in the US (and I'm not sure if they're big in Japan).
They promise 'new wave dream folk dark disco,' which sounds intriguing if nothing else.
Clean, chiming guitars tinkle the introduction of 'Bonheur des Hommes,' before vocals, sung in French and located comparatively low in the mix, enter the scene. So far so good, and I'm thinking 'hey, not bad. A French Interpol, perhaps.' But toward the end, there are what sound to my ears like some very off notes in the vocal melody. It works, though, and I have plenty of examples of off notes in my record collection, so I forgive it.
'Une Fois' is built around a moody, rolling piano motif and a synth riff lifted straight from Supertramp an again, it's ok until a couple of minutes in when the singer seems to lose the melodic plot as the tune swirls off into a slightly surreal sonic dreamscape.
I'm starting to see that there's a pattern emerging, and the third track, 'A Toi Qui Passes' only reinforces this belief. It's built around a mechanized 4/4 drum and a phat, flanged bass sound reminiscent of 'Faith'-era Cure and some spindly guitars (a sound again used to good effect on 'Transition (John is Dead).' The vocals, however, prove to be something of an obstacle.
'Aux Doux Anges' kicks things up a notch with a nagging guitar riff and solid rhythm. The bass is cavernous, and so are the vocals, which are drenched in swirling reverb... and even more of key.
It's so wrong it can't be accidental, but there are moments when I can't believe what I'm hearing. Consequently, I really don't know what to make of it, and repeat listens only leave me more confused. Musically, 'new wave dream folk dark disco' is a fair description, and 'Bonheur Dynamique' is musically consistent, with exciting and atmospheric tunes from beginning to end. I just can't get on with the vocals - not their pitch, tone or quality, but their incongruity. Still, in a world where so much music is much of a muchness, One for Jude are certainly distinctive, and I can't really knock that.