Album review by email@example.com
Discovering the music of Vancouver quartet Mode Moderne is a bit like reading a detective novel. Suppose you'd never heard a single song, and then look at the clues. Mode Moderne sounds as though it should be a post-punk/electro band from the early '80s. It could be the name of a record by New Order or Kraftwerk; so there's that potential aspect. The title is 'Occult Delight', a signpost pointing towards gothic sounds if ever there was one. Then this little tale: the band released their debut album back in 2009, and in between that and their second full-length, they released a mini album as well as a single, 'Real Goths', a track that left such an impression on one Serbian fan that she had some of its lyrics tattooed on her. It would be reasonable to assume we should be in for some of the darker post-punk and new-wave sounds here.
Since those records, band member and producer Felix Fung has departed the group, but this hasn't altered their direction wildly. If you're expecting doom and gloom then you're only partially right, as the band themselves say they've always wanted to incorporated the darker side of that scene with the accessibility of indiepop groups, and this is the perfect description of what they've achieved here. A quick glance at the song titles reveals names like 'Strangle The Shadows', 'She, Untamed' and 'Severed Heads'; they have the morbid side of things sorted, but then when you hear 'Strangle The Shadows' it is a melodic, catchy and fairly radio-friendly post-punk tune. You're probably best comparing Mode Moderne to The Cure, a band who are archetypal goths and adored even by fans of black metal, yet many of their songs were love songs and were jangly, light and poppy. 'Occult Delight' doesn't sound like The Cure, but its view of music is much the same.
'Grudges Crossed' piles on the gloom a bit more, but it then throws in a memorable chorus; there's a big highlight in 'Thieving Babies Breath', a song with a dark title and moody post-punk verses, but the biggest pop hook on the album for the chorus; 'She, Untamed' is pure new-wave that could be a period piece rather than a reproduction, and again it merges lyrics like "the pleasure is grey... a bitter tongue" with melodies that stick in your head. This is an album of total contrasts, much like The Cure, but it's also incredibly strong with most songs having single potential and this yin and yang approach continuing throughout. The title-track is something of a centrepiece and offers a more atmospheric and stately take on things; and other stand-outs include the anthemic rush of 'Unburden Yourself', the Smithsy 'Come Sunrise' and pretty much the whole lot. A band worthy of a lifelong bodily memento? Well, for extreme fans maybe, but for the rest of us it's definitely an album to remember by more conventional means.
Mode Moderne's website
Stream the album in full
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Catch them live:
FRI 21 FEB Tsunami, Cologne, Germany
SAT 22 MAR T.a.g, Brussels, Belgium
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