February 28, 2007
Montreal pop quintet Malajube takes risks. Their hugely operatic sophomore album Trompe L’Oeil veers into melodrama with drunken abandonment: like a friend made in a Parisian hostel, they’re loads of fun, mysterious and a little reckless—but in a way that only our less-jaded, foreign counterparts can be, they’re also somehow innocent and refreshingly free of self-consciousness.
Bursting forth from their home city’s overripe music scene, Malajube are a bit of an Arcade Fire on MSG. They take the big, orchestral sounds popularized by the Arcade Fire to deafening heights with grandiose guitar melodies that, when played live at Seattle’s Neumo’s, pushed even dedicated listeners away from their vibrating amps.
Unlike most of their Montreal counterparts, lead vocalist and guitarist Julien Mineau and keyboardist/vocalist Thomas Augustin sing entirely in French. As a result, their juicy pop-rock feels somehow culturally edifying. Mineau and Augustin’s vocals roll and glide with the music in a way that the rougher tones of English cannot. Their awkwardly cute stage banter made clear that French is genuinely the more comfortable language for them rather than a marketing ploy.
Inexplicably clad in purchases from Capitol Hill’s Atlas Clothing—a mink fur hat, a leather biker jacket, a Singles-esque twinset—the onstage theatrics of Malajube and the ease with which they play fulfills the promise of Trompe L’Oeil. Having already garnered praise from Pitchfork and uber-blogger Brooklyn Vegan, their lovable exuberance assured me that I’d made the right choice in venturing out on an icy Wednesday night. Malajube is like a mid-summer peach that drips down your chin as you sink your teeth into it—delectable, satisfying and somehow good for you.