For a guy who wears a headband way too much of the time, Martin Solveig knows how to write a good tune. Solveig, whose fifth album ‘Smash’ was released in June last year continues to provide with ‘The Night Out’, a track that I somehow missed for almost a year, carrying on the legacy of the Kele-assisted ‘Ready 2 Go‘ and ‘Hello‘ featuring Dragonette in being true to the name of the album. But listening back on those tracks now, they seem to have instantly dated. Their happy-go-lucky synth lines and simple, four-on-the-floor beats match their preternaturally bubbly outlook – they are readily infectious but, over a year into listening, lack real staying power. Instead, as time capsule songs of a moment, they do a damn fine job of recording what last autumn and winter sounded like. Why is it any different with ‘The Night Out’? Well, in many instances it’s not.
I’ve just done a spot of empirical research and have discovered that, without fail, the first three tracks from ‘Smash’ – ‘Hello’, ‘Ready 2 Go’ and ‘The Night Out’ – all break down at 2’30” and, depending on the length of the track, things burst back in shortly thereafter: Kele in full voice at 3’30”, Djokovic’s umpire challenge ruled out at 3′ just as Dragonette’s Martina Sorbara’s glitchy vocals threaten to implode and Solveig’s looped vocals thumped by the reintroduction of the key verse at 3’35”. There is definitely a formula to all this. The plethora of remix material available out there suggests that Solveig might even engineer his tracks for ease of manipulation. What’s different, then, about ‘The Night Out’ is that a) it’s new (for me) so I am yet to develop full immunity to its instant charm and b) has guitars and Solveig on vocals.
The time thing will obviously come to pass. While I recognise that ‘Ready 2 Go’ was, in reality, a pop curiosity and probably not the thing (as I might have brashly claimed at the time) that saved Kele Okereke’s career and ‘Hello’ has been overplayed til the cows come home, they, as ‘The Night Out’ will, remain massively fun songs. The guitar thing is obviously a big deal for guys who otherwise spend all day and night cooped up in a recording studio with only a Macbook and a keyboard for company and is accordingly played up in the track’s frankly lacklustre visual treatment. The Solveig vocal thing, though, is what sets ‘The Night Out’ apart for me. While originally credited as the work of Phoenix’s Thomas Mars (pah! Who can tell? French people!), it is in fact the voice of the headbanded one that is alternatively beseeching and questioning but always endearingly real. It’s sort of like what I expected Deadmau5’s vocal edit for ‘The Veldt’ to sound like after I heard that normal fan dude Chris James had had his cut picked on emailing it to the mau5. But those vocals are annoying. Solveig’s, by contrast, are vaguely untrained and a bit tonally strange but overwhelming human. In the crimped and tanned and pitch-perfect world of electro-house, the Frenchman with the headband wins out with near-incomprehensible lyrics delivered with startling sincerity.
Martin Solveig – The Night Out