Marsheaux – Lumineux Noir

There are times when the ‘oldie’ tag just seems a bit wrong, but as of this week, Marsheaux‘s third album Lumineux Noir is five years old already, and that’s a long time in music. Having gradually set the world of electronic music alight with E-Bay Queen (2004) and Peeka Boo (2007) it was very much time for their “difficult third album”.

What seems to be missing from Lumineux Noir is the sheer joy of the first two releases. From the opening bars of the first track Exit it’s clear that they have tried to find a more mature sound, but it’s not entirely successful unfortunately.

Which is not to say that it’s entirely unsuccessful either – Breakthrough has much of the pop power of the earlier albums, so it certainly should have been clear that Marsheaux hadn’t completely lost their touch.

Other songs are valiant efforts but somehow don’t quite cut the mustard – Summer feels as though it ought to be a whole lot more uplifting than it actually is, and Stand By, with its perhaps unintentional channelling of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) feels a little bit lacking too somehow.

Radial Emotion is rather more fun, with a bit of an 8-bit feel which somehow seems to breathe the energy back into the album. It may not be the most meaningful and heartfeld lyric in the history of music, but it’s pretty enjoyable nonetheless.

From here though, things seem to take a turn for the worse. Loss of Heaven is just a bit lifeless and dull. Destroy Me would be duller still, if it weren’t for a strong chorus which turns up to liven things up a bit.

There really isn’t a lot to say about the latter half of the album – Faith is more of the same. Lead single Ghost seemed somehow to be more special on its own, and it does liven things up a little bit, but its chorus feels a bit anticlimactic after the time it takes to get there. You’ll be tapping your feet, but you might not be completely sure why.

It’s Fine Now has that 8-bit thing going on again, and Thousand LEDs tries really hard to be uplifting again. Seemingly at the tail end of this album very little is actually new, and nothing entirely seems to hit home. Penultimate track So Far doesn’t seem to add a huge amount either, although some of the remixes which appear on the bonus disc to the subsequent album Inhale are pretty good. Then finally comes the closing track Sorrow, which is probably quite good on its own, but is a bit of a mouthful after everything which came before it. This feels more like a compilation than an actual album – there’s no obvious progression or evolution in the sound. It’s still entirely pleasant to listen to, but sadly it’s all very forgettable too.

So Lumineux Noir really isn’t bad, but it certainly isn’t Peeka Boo, and right or wrong, the comparison is unavoidable. Marsheaux had tried to evolve their sound, which is good, but in so doing, they seemed to have lost everything that made them special. So it was up to Inhale (2013) to redress the balance.

The original double disc version of Lumineux Noir seems to have long since fallen out of print, but the single disc release is widely available at places such as this one.

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