If I were asked to craft a reinvention of the 1980s on film, a large portion of the soundtrack would belong to Minitel Rose, the eccentric French trio whose restless synths and energetic electronica are reminiscent of the days when John Bender and Ferris Bueller ruled the earth. And, with the nation’s inexplicable current infatuation with all things ’80s — from its fashion to the reinvention of its movies and TV shows –the group’s Alantique is comfortably en vogue, paying homage to the new wave and house music of yesteryear while solidifying the presence of a relatively new outfit already acclaimed for its ability to move crowds and entice euphoria. Ultimately, this recording serves its purpose as a plentiful blend of harmonious punk nostalgia.
Just to be clear, Atlantique is solely focused on style and not substance, so don’t expect an overly insightful project of concealed depth or astute metaphors. Simply put, the Minitel Rose members want you to dance abundantly. Or, at the very least, they want you to play their latest recording on full blast to appreciate the nuances captured within the melody. Overall, Atlantique is similar to the group’s debut album, 2008’s The French Machine. It was lauded for its futuristic yet simplistic take on electro-pop. But while the new Rose recording takes a light approach to sound, its predecessor was heavier and much more glossy. Sonically, Atlantique is slightly underproduced and leaves less room for headaches, while The French Machine seemed slightly forced, dizzy and disorganized at times. The vocals and instruments on said recording also felt louder, while the sounds on Atlantique are tamed and docile (as much as can be expected for this musical genre).
Apparently, there’s a good reason for that, since Minitel Rose relied heavily on computer technology to compile its last album. For Atlantique, the group members retreated to a rented house overlooking the ocean in Pornic, France, and used analog equipment to complete the project. “We wanted to get an album composed in a special place during a special period, in a special time of our life,” group member Quentin Gauvin said. “It’s very important for us to be in an atypical place to compose. We are always inspired by what we can see. Searching for a melody in front of the sea is different than in a big town or in a desert.” Therefore, a song like “Ocean’s Call,” the album’s upbeat, guitar-laced opener, is a no-brainer.
Another waterlogged song, “Under The Rain,” stands out as an ominous and slightly sinister tale of triumphant perseverance. Here, the group sings: “I feel the pain, and I know my travel is not in vein.” On “Snake Girl,” Atlantique‘s climactic centerpiece, the song is carried by its overwhelming use of synthesizers until it dissolves into an oceanic abstract, bringing the album to a satisfying close.
Water is the theme of Atlantique, from the waves washing the shore on the album cover to the aqua throughout the product. And perhaps on purpose, the recording is carried by an engulfing fluidity, which makes the music enticing, even if Minitel Rose’s reverberations aren’t your cup of tea. If nothing else, Atlantique might persuade you to dust off that Members Only jacket, break out the old Nintendo, or revisit your favorite John Hughes flick. Back to the future, indeed.