Jade's debut album opens in innocent fairytale mode with a jaunty little melody tinkling away on piano keyboards. But stormclouds soon gather on the horizon and moody banks of 'cello come rolling in, confirming that this talented trip-hop foursome from Lyons are on a mission to explore the darker side of the genre. Following hot on the heels of an acclaimed four-track EP, Analogic is a satisfying mix of trip-hop, pop and downtempo beats guaranteed to send shivers down an Eskimo's spine in mid-summer.
On its opening tracks, Analogic might be criticised for drawing a little too heavily on big-name influences (Portishead and Sneaker Pimps taking over Mama and Iceland's alternative music queen Björk overshadowing Real). However, as the album progresses, Jade's confidence builds and the foursome break away from standard references and come fully into their own. Laëtitia Mosca's vocals are alternately ethereal, melancholy and imploring and the young singer really shines on tracks such as She Real and Voodoo Love. Laëtitia's simple piano-vocals performance on Sacrifice, in fact, comes close to musical perfection, recalling Tori Amos's earliest offerings.
Musically speaking, Jade dare to be a little different, too. Unlike the majority of trip-hop adepts, the French foursome do not stake their all on sampling. Analogic features the usual musical programming, but the group's three musicians - Rémi, Jean-Pierre and Olivier - manage to weave their own sound around this base, injecting a certain vitality into essentially melancholy songs. Seven Mondays includes sweeping Floydian-style arpeggios while Ready adds a vintage pop edge to proceedings, pulsing with wah-wah guitar, and Amazing Feeling is a trip-hop anthem with clear chart-storming potential.
Analogic has enjoyed simultaneous release in Europe and the U.S., the ambitious foursome from Lyons having their sights firmly set on breaking into the American market. Wax Tailor have already proved that "Frenchies" can make it across the Atlantic - and it looks as though Jade now have every chance of following in their compatriots' chart-topping footsteps!