As It Ever Was
A more accessible fifth album from Belgian group Absynthe Minded, As It Ever Was, offers up some solid, radio-friendly pop, with a few welcome forays into jazz and klezmer.
The imperturbable quintet from Ghent, led by the singer Bert Ostyn, continues on its path to success beyond the borders of Belgium. They hit a first European bull’s eye two years ago with their previous disk, the catchy single Envoi, which got them noticed in France and the Netherlands.
The previous album was honed by French producer, Jean Lamoot. This time, they handed the task of producing As It Ever Was to a Canadian in Paris, Adam Samuels – a close associate of Daniel Lanois and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, slotting in nicely with the group’s new ambitions.
The new offering, which was recorded in La Frette studios near Paris, reveals a move to a more compact sound and their quest to create an Anglo-Saxon punch, epitomized by the title track’s monolithic rhythm and soaring chorus, and the heady You will be mine. The first single, Space, is a more calibrated version of Absynthe Minded’s tried and tested formula, and destined for a healthy lifespan on the air.
The band’s characteristic gipsy swings don’t make an appearance until the end of the album, like on the excellent Crosses, or the jazz-inspired offbeat sounds of Get around. The upshot: the originality of the first albums takes a back seat, but the quality remains.
Absynthe Minded, As It Ever Was (AZ / Universal) 2012
On tour in Belgium and France
Translation: A-M. Harper