Principles Of Geometry - LazareIt's evident from Lazare that French duo Guillaume Grosso and Jeremy Duval are dedicated students: the album is littered with nods to various styles spanning the last four decades of electronic music. They've also clearly got a passion for copious range of genres, and (to their praise) experiment freely between Italo, hip-hop, pop, ambient, post-Justice grind and angsty guitar songs. If this sounds like it should press the button marked 'hell yeah' then you're right, it should, but 'Lazare' leaves the listener frustratingly unmoved. The album is given a studied polish that strongly recalls John Carpenter—many tracks sound like they were made on clunking ‘80s analogue banks—and throughout are the kind of noises almost stolen from the closing credits of films like The Running Man or the original Assault on Precinct 13. I say a studied polish because the problem is that it's too polished. The modish sheen is enticing and alluring—and hollow. The feeling you're left with is Principles prize their slightly pretentious aesthetic above everything and the content comes second.
This is annoying because Lazare threatens to, and occasionally does, make your pulse jump and your eyebrows arch to the back of your head. Like when Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox fame spits furiously over a rabid electronic crescendo on 'Napoleon', or the airy slow italo of 'A Mountain for President', where Sébastien Tellier guests on vocals and synths, or the catch and release spasm of 'Golem' which evokes the better tracks from Justice and Jackson and His Computer Band. Two of the slower tracks are also enchanting, 'Akeshore' in particular sounding like what flying through clouds would be like.
Too often, though, songs begin then never fully develop, as if the initial pulse was not enough to sustain it for four minutes. Too often it's only for a small part of the track you're hooked in and too often you're left hankering for more quality. In the end Lazare is held back from being great by the same affliction that bedevilled Kavinsky's 1984--that presentation seems more important than substance. Perhaps live the pressure of performance would cause 'Principles' to shake off their cool and bring out their obvious talent because on record it hovers in the background, aloof and frequently out of reach.