Living on the Edge of Time

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Yuksek's second full album finds the French performer going for the pop brass ring, with the kind of instantly peppy arrangements and performances that have blurred the line between dance populism, perceived indie aesthetics, and the kind of music that could just as easily soundtrack a teen TV series or the commercials that appear in it. If the line of descent of his work feels like a combination of Elton John and ELO via Jimi Tenor, Daft Punk, and the Kitsuné label as a whole, it's hard to argue that it's not a thoroughly 21st century French approach at this point, and given the increasing success of French performers in the Anglophone world, why not continue going for broke? "On a Train" gives an idea of just how well he puts the pieces together; the verses aren't too far from New Order and the singing is pure '80s synth pop aspiration, but the choruses are massed sweetness that again look forward and back from that point, neither Queen nor Junior Senior -- nor for that matter Andrew W.K. If "Off the Wall" might suggest the title of another pop high point than what Yuksek works in, it's still a treat in its own right, while the extended break on the title track is another classic example of what happens when Euro-disco gets re-imagined for a newer generation. What's enjoyable about Yuksek is that he still conveys a kind of dreamy winsomeness that, at many times subtly, contrasts against the out-and-out exuberance of a song like "Miracle." Thus "White Keys" may have an amazing break with one huge chorus building after another, but the melancholy undertow of the main arrangement offsets that beautifully, while "To See You Smile" starts off slow and steady, building up drums and more as it goes but always sounding gentle.

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