Gallic musician-cum-producer Pascal Arbez-Nicolas has been a leading light on the electronic scene for the best part of two decades. Better known as Vitalic, having started his own label Citizen Records as far back as 1996 in order to release his first single, he's gone on to establish himself as one of the electro-dance movement's pivotal figures. While 2005's debut 'OK Cowboy' introduced him to the wider community, it was the follow-up four years later 'Flashmob' that really cemented Vitalic's presence as a force to be reckoned with. Combining eighties-inspired synths with a futuristic vision not that dissimilar to Soulwax or their dancefloor oriented alter egos 2 Many DJs, its emergence as one of 2009's most inspiring long players set the scene dramatically for what was to come next.
Although three years have passed since 'Flashmob', Arbez-Nicolas hasn't quite delivered the forward-thinking masterpiece many would have hoped for. While 'Rave Age' does pretty much what it says on the tin; there's little doubt a lot of it is influenced by the newer, post-millennial take on the golden age of dance music circa '88-'90; it offers little insight into what makes Vitalic tick (or, indeed, has done these past seventeen years). Furthermore, it also provides no clues as to what possibly caused the long delay between albums as 'Rave Age' almost feels like a step back in time rather than adventurous platform up to the next level.
As with its predecessor, Arbez-Nicolas has assembled a wealth of vocal talent to transform his musical creations into palatable songs, which means the likes of 'Fade Away' and 'Next I'm Ready' benefit tremendously from the input provided by one-time Shitdisco mainman Joe Reeves. Likewise, album standout 'La Mort Sur Le Dancefloor' showcases the wares of relatively unknown Sexy Sushi chanteuse Rebeka Warrior. Similarly, the hi-energy 'Under Your Sun' is giving an uplifting burst of charm courtesy of France's answer to Florence Welch, Owlle.
Sadly, for the most part 'Rave Age' slips into formulaic territories probably best utilised as background music and, despite the odd flourish such as the prog-rock inspired 'Nexus' or short sharp shock 'Vigipirate', it never really matches the consistently high standards set by 'Flashmob'. Hopefully, Pascal Arbez-Nicolas' next venture will put the "vital" back into Vitalic.