Warhaus - Warhaus

by Jim Harris Rating:9 Release Date:2017-10-13
Warhaus
Warhaus

Warhaus had a pretty ballsy titled album the first time around: We Fucked a Flame into Being but the music backed it up with a sort of noir meets 50s smoke-filled bar lounge singing act that any fan of Leonard Cohen would fall in love with.  And if I wasn’t a Lit Major I may have missed that the title of the album came from D.H. Lawrence but a line like that has impact.  And it was a solid first effort and now along comes the self-titled Warhaus, the second release from the Belgian musician Maarten Devoldere and it’s clearly a progression of a particular vision from this artist.

What’s most interesting about Warhaus is the deceptively well-conceived song structures that build these waltzy, jazzy, sometimes breezy, oftentimes sexy story songs.  Devoldere is part of a rather excellent Belgium band called Balthazar, that has a considerably more rock and roll slant than Warhaus, but regardless, Devoldere has put together an excellent body of work between Balthazar and Warhaus.

Warhaus on the surface is a quirky take on Leonard Cohen meets Tom Waits with a healthy mix of sexy female vocals and mid to uptempo progressions built around Devoldere’s husky deep voice, but a few extra times through this album the songs begin to resonate as great to brilliant in their minimalist mixtures of pianos, guitars, and the timeliness of the backing vocals that occasionally take the lead.

Warhaus is everything I’ve always missed from Leonard Cohen, who always seemed to have too much space, too much breath dragging through the songs for my tastes.  Warhaus is poppier, more alternative.  And the music is richer in its own way.  While it has little of the musical quirkiness of Tom Waits, it lightens up and moves along in a decidedly post punk aesthetic.

So essentially Warhaus brings a certain more accessible pop aesthetic into the bar and lounge with him.  And the songs are executed perfectly throughout the 42 minutes of music.  One of the more listenable alternative albums of 2017.  While it may not have some of the soulful depth that these types of singers often bring, the style hits the mark.

Devoldere is clearly one of the next generation of sexy noir hipster performers and if Warhaus along with his first album, is any indication, Devoldere might be at it just as long as Leonard Cohen was. No one should pass on this album, especially if you are a fan of this genre.  Hopefully such albums will keep coming from Warhaus.

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