Through the years Valois has evolved sound and size but always kept a premium on writing. For their latest album the band dive wholeheartedly into synth-pop while pushing their sonic limits. It’s decidedly midi-like sounds will prove testing regardless of the writing however, and will prove the most polarizing aspect of their record.
By Owen Maxwell
While so many of the band’s previous efforts had the life and soul of their indie-pop contemporaries, We’re All In This Together But You finds the group really committing to a sound. Though it’s clear from the outset on a track like “Easy To Love” that the lo-fi synth tones will lead the record, it’s how Valois play around with these tones that make their act so interesting.
Regardless of your feelings on the sonic side of the record, there’s a constant drive to this opener that will have people dancing. “Heartsparkle” however explores the darker sides of their keyboard sounds, and finds a much more complex range of emotions inside. Valois even explores the borders of infatuation and objectification as they bring two sides to a seemingly cheery love story.
Though the album’s aesthetics can change in jarring ways in songs like “Friends”, there’s always something catchy in the lyrics, and the commentary is on point more often than not. Hints of Bowie’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) give the song an ugly sense of tension that drive it repeatedly, but the disco undertones don’t always feel in tune with this emotion.
While the borderline 8-bit bass of “The River” may be a sticking point for some, there’s a lush sense of production to the rest of the song that makes so much of the writing really pop. Thanks to the group’s repeated use of duality in their vocals, they craft a record with lyrics that really make you think.
“Repetitions” leans into the fidelity of the record for the most Devo-like song on the record, as the stilted vocals suggest a robotic emotion and bring a heavier dose of new wave to the album. This abrasive quality puts it in a different space than other songs, and makes its return to more generic pop fairly mundane by comparison.
Despite their sonic similarities, there’s enough jarring cuts between and even within songs like this on the album to make early listens more testing than others. That’s why it’s so refreshing when Valois find some glorious middle ground in the discordant synth-pop of “We’re All In This Together But You” with cacophonous guitars cutting through every bright moment.
In the moody and mysterious moments of the album, the tonal choices end up being very divisive and ultimately make or break songs depending on the listener. This is why a song like “You Deserve Better” can feel brilliant and rich to some and far too harsh to others.
Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with using primitive synths in something much more sophisticated, the way they’re mixed into some of the songs on this record are so outlandish that they will be shocking one way or the other. “Glitter” however knows exactly what it is, as Valois offer up moments of serenity in something dense and grimy. As the band push their dance-pop to its limits through samples and addictive solos, they close the album out on a banger.
Though aesthetically more of a mixed bag, the writing of Valois has always been on point and is even stronger on this release. As Valois create totally unique songs that pull tones from the likes of Bowie, Arcade Fire and more, they hit that perfect balance of familiar and new.
Check their bandcamp from valois.bandcamp.com