The Black Leaders went down a storm when we featured their sophomore album Take It Easy back in 2016. Their follow-up Fix of Love is scheduled for release on 8th March and promises the same provocative rock edge.
Hailing from Rennes, there is a distinctly French flavour to The Black Leaders, foregrounded in the vocal intonation of front woman Marie Guyottot. There’s no mistaking their rock credentials, too, with powerful guitar, pulsing percussion, and expressive keys all held together with subtle bass from new band member, Canadian Laurent Dupuis.
Providing intricate arrangements, “My Ground Zero” opens the album with a dreamy feel to The Black Leaders’ signature sound. “Special Case” follows with a nostalgic vibe, harder edged than ’70s soft rock, but with glimpses of the genre showing through.
Title track “Fix of Love” moves into traditional territory, full of catchy progressions and brain-invading hook lines. This is music to make you move, and sing along too, especially the anthemic closing chant “I want a fix of love” – romance with a rebellious streak.
Keeping the energy high, “Machine Gun” is a song of living solo:
“Stay out of my face,
I’m a machine gun.
Stay out of my face,
If you’re looking for fun.”
And take a listen to the guitar solo It’s the musicianship of The Black Leaders that sets them apart from the rest, showcased magnificently from the 1 min 40 mark.
Rock has a history of political activism, so to find reference to Donald Trump in The Black Leaders’ work is no surprise. Catch the video to “Mr President”, which also features Putin, Kim Jong-un and a surprisingly pugilistic Obama. No Macron, though.
Taking the tempo down, but still offering that delicious guitar work, “Incomplete” is intricately arranged. Dipping into a soul-pop sound, Guyottot’s vocals are classy and controlled, sitting smoothly above bass-rich production.
If you like your rock fun and funky, “Stand Where I Stand” ticks the boxes. Although few albums get played end-to-end these days, it’s good to find an injection of variety around the half-way mark, proving that the band have more to give. A foot-tapper, the subject is elusive yet inspiring “don’t ever give up”. Oh, and there’s that amazing guitar again.
Keeping up a perky rhythm, “Are You OK?” brings in cheeky keyboard moments, light of touch, before crashing into guitar/drums. Once again, Guyottot has the vocal range to match all requirements, which show up again on “Shooting Star”. There’s folk in there, weaving into a bit of prog (check out the woodwind) and occasional unselfconscious pop, but always rock at her core.
Stripping it back “Saved Me” opens with voice and keys. Perfectly controlled, no clever production tricks needed, this is a band in charge of their music. There’s a delight in hearing music recorded and believing it will sound equally as strong on stage. The story is gratitude for the person that pulled you through a tough patch ‘You saved me from my anxieties…’.
Closing the album with surprisingly complex arrangements “Nothing Matters” is a song of love and loss. Switching from traditional rock into string-laden orchestrations, there’s another side to The Black Leaders, perhaps a glimpse of where they may take their music next.
Fix of Love is self-released on 8th March 2018. Get your copy here.
The Black Leaders are Alex Odile (guitar), Marie Guyottot (lead vocals), Olivier Bacon (keyboards), Christopher Theard (drums), and Laurent Dupuis (bass). Catch them live at Le Jardin Moderne in their native Riennes on 22 March, and keep an eye on their social feeds for news of further appearances, including a trip to London in the spring:
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