Previously session musicians for a whole host of French synth pop maestros, Pierre Leroux and Victor Le Masne, aka Housse de Racket, step out from behind the scenes for the second time with their sophomore album, Alesia. Combining several of their Parisian neighbors' trademark sounds, from the spiky angular indie disco of Phoenix ("Roman") to the dreamy cinematic soundscapes of Air ("Empire") to the Gallic house of Cassius ("Aquarium"), whose Philippe Zdar features here on production duties, its ten tracks indicate that Leroux and Le Masne were certainly taking notes during their backing band days. While these blatant pastiches suggest the duo is trapped in its hometown's little musical bubble, the rest of the album reveals a much more varied and eclectic range of influences. "Château" evokes New Order's excursion into Ibiza territory with its throbbing Peter Hook-esque basslines, melancholic melodies, and Balearic beats; the title track takes its cue from Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, with its ominous and brooding futuristic synths; and the doom-laden chorus of "Apolcalypso" ("the end is coming") is set against an inventive backdrop of Afro-beat percussion, jangly guitars, and juddering electro hooks. Elsewhere, the nu rave meets prog rock of "Chorus" could have been lifted from the first Klaxons album, "Ariane" is a sinister slice of spacy psychedelia, and "TGV" is a bubblegum pop homage to the obscure French new wave outfit of the same name. Having earned their apprenticeship with several of their country's biggest synth pop icons, it's understandable that much of Alesia sounds so familiar. But when they do things their own way, Housse de Racket show enough potential to suggest that one day they could well become just as influential themselves.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien