Vive la Fête

Nuit Blanche

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Here's where it became serious -- by 2003's Nuit Blanche, Vive la Fête was no longer a mere side project for one of its founders and masterminds, Danny Mommens. Originally a member of Belgian indie rock band dEUS, widely known among open-minded rock fans for its eclectic and experimental tendencies, Mommens saw dEUS though their farewell tour in 2002 and then was free to devote his full-time energy and creativity to Vive la Fête, his labor-of-love project with singer/girlfriend Els Pynoo. Nuit Blanche, full-length number three, benefits from this newfound commitment enormously -- simply put, it's the most confident, consistent, and simply enjoyable record in entire Vive la Fête catalog. Both sides of the band's sound -- pulsating electronics and bald rock swagger -- are represented here to the full maximum effect. Admittedly, there's less rock this time around, but every time it surfaces in the mix, it works splendidly. For instance, one of the album's highlights, "Touche Pas," manages to be both a fist-pumping club anthem and a charging rock number, guaranteed to flatten the dancefloor with a combination of fat, steady beats and a wall of red-hot guitars. It's followed by an excellent run of purely electronic tracks -- the joyfully charging "Jaloux," the melancholy, midtempo "Joyeux," and the fantastically sleazy "Mon Dieu," where the memorable lines "bang bang, boogie boogie, bang bang" are repeated by a emotionless male voice before waves of digital noise take over the entire song. The next time Vive la Fête switches the "rock" button on, however, it's simply killer -- and it happens in track eight, "Noir Desir." It starts calmly enough, with a steady synthetic midtempo beat and a simple melody, but when guitars enter the mix by the end of the second verse, and Els Pynoo suddenly loses her usual glamour chick cool and goes for emotive, the effect is absolutely staggering. At six minutes the song may drag a couple minutes too long -- and it's not hard to spot those extra minutes in the song's drawn-out conclusion -- but that single moment in the final chorus, where Pynoo, admittedly far from the most gifted of singers, breaks down into a shriek when unable to put even more feeling into her singing, is worth entire records of certain like-minded bands. With moments like that and strong material all around, Nuit Blanche finds the band at the absolute top of their game. No other Vive la Fête record before (or, for that matter, after) sounded this inspired and energized.