Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu
Ninja Tune / Bonsound
RIYL: Charlotte Gainsbourg; Euro Pop; power moves
Renegade Breakdown is a breakup album. Marie Davidson’s well-publicized step away from the electronic music scene is also a retirement from her treatment as techno darling, and she knows it. “There are no money makers on this record / This time, I’m exploring the loser’s point of view,” Davidson sings on the album’s clear moneymaker, “Renegade Breakdown.”
Davidson is confident. Just as confident as she was on Working Class Woman, except now she really gets to put her unflappability to work. Here, Davidson tests the bounds of her signature magnetic, commanding sing-talk across genres and through collaboration – the singer is backed by L’Œil Nu (comprised of her husband, Pierre Guerineau, and Asaël Robitaille). From the cabaret-inspired “Just in My Head” to the haunting pop of “Lead Sister” and the drama of “Back to Rock,” Davidson traverses style and mode, invoking the various identities we find her in on the record’s cover.
Even still, there are moments where it is hard to square Davidson’s unique vocal performance with Guerineau and Robitaille’s instrumentals. But Renegade Breakdown’s highs are high, eclectic, and captivating. “Center of the World (Kotti Blues)” is one of the most accurate dedications to Berlin I’ve ever heard, a tender and heartbreaking ode to the city that made and broke Davidson. Berlin, like its various subcultures and lifestyles, can be self-contained and all-consuming. Davidson’s seen that world, got bored of it, and is onto the next one.
– Katerina Stamadianos