There have always been plenty of good labels about, putting out all variety of amazing tracks. But the ones that get remembered are the ones with a narrative running throughout their roster – Factory might’ve become a tacky parody of itself, but it’s one of the classic examples of an independent record company embodying the feel of a time. Of course, it doesn’t come close to Motown, so synonymous with the sound it’s artists put out that Craig David, upon putting out a tribute album to the era, had simply presumed it was the catch-all tag for a genre. More recent examples are in similar abundance – from Sub Pop and Art Fag’s ultra-hip output, to Woodsist signing every decent lo-fi act that sound like they’ve too much time in the forest. None have a sound so blatant as French label Kitsuné, however.
Now onto the 9th edition of their benchmark ‘Maison’ compilation album, they show no sign of stopping. Throughout the 18 tracks, there’s barely a note that isn’t high octane, energetic and electronic – but to anyone who’s listened to any of the previous editions is won’t be surprised. Nor will the range of up and coming stars on show, either – whilst the label has launched the careers of La Roux, Delphic, Foals and Crystal Castles, it’s threatening to repeat the trick again with a stellar line-up. Two Door Cinema Club have received longtime support from the label, something that’s paying off with increased interest from the US and larger audiences this side of the Atlantic, and they’re included again in light of their debut album on the label.
The rest of the album is a mixture of semi-established acts either unsigned or borrowed from other labels. The much hyped Hurts pitch in with ‘Wonderful Life’, an song that feels as though it’s been ripped straight from the late 1980’s club scene, whilst Penguin Prison continue their ascent with the playful ‘Animal Animal’, a track that bounces about with the liveliness of an excited toddler. Elsewhere, Yuksek entertain with the gloriously titled ‘Supermenz (We’re Not)’, a spacey, anthemic effort that bombards you with it’s ridiculous chorus and bombastic beats in equal measure.
Though it largely sticks to the winning formula, the label do show signs that they’re far from stuck in a rut, getting the blog-friendly tones of Washed Out to open proceedings. But, by and large, this isn’t a record that’s going to win over any long time doubters, and you’re probably already well aware if you’re going to like this or not. This is the soundtrack to a euphoric summer’s day, to thousands of lost hours on continental dancefloors. There may be a lack of depth, of variety, but that’s not the point – this is great, intelligent dance music to wash over and engulf you.
WASHED OUT – BELONG [download from the fader]