The opening track, "Quatre Mains", is a lot more muscular than I remember. I'm sure it was all jangle and tinkling piano when they were singing "Little Arithmetics" back in them days and I was going to Flemish record shops. Now there's a grown-up, tense bass line and harpsichord sounding stuff. I don't understand the French, but it sounds serious and there are melodic slides going on behind and guitar like the beginning of Eye of the Tiger.
"Sirens" is more along the lines of what I was expecting, medium fast indie rock over the wicket. His voice sounds pretty fucked up. "Redemption isn't coming soon/I'm stuck here with these hidden wounds," he sings over icy synths on "Hidden Wounds", which is a PTSD story judging by the voiceover about some army patrol finding a detonated body. Cheery. There are clever lyrics on "Girls Keep Drinking", but I'm not sure what they are about. Something about not being happy with pop music now, perhaps. "The Soft Fall" is more of a romantic shuffle about the good life, although I may have missed some dark irony within.
"The lack of laughter's contagious/It spread the panic within" opens "The Give Up Gene", which swings a literary baseball bat at anything that dares comes near, as far as I can hear. It is cool and measured and sounds like it could be a theme to The Sopranos or The Wire; but it's angry about something: "the backwash of empires" or something. "Fire Up The Google Beast Algorithm" also strings out a nice long stream of manic talk about "speaking seventeen sign languages" and "solving the crosswords in your head" over a backing track that the new Fall band would have rumbling with sharp edges behind MES' wet-mouthed rants.
"If money's the answer, it must've been a pretty dumb question"
Rating: Grown-Up Paranoia out of A City With A Difficult To Avoid Red Light District