Band of the Day

2013.07.14

Hooverphonic

Extravagantly cinematic pop with dramatic orchestral sweeps
We know there is no happy end, but still I'm tempted every time we're fooling around.
lyrics from No More Sweet Music

Emerging from the great nation of Belgium amidst all the fevered buzz of late 90’s trip-hop, Hooverphonic quickly proved too musically sophisticated to be bound to such a fleeting trend. The band released six albums between 1996 and 2007, racking up more than 300,000 sales in the US alone. In the process, they toured extensively, sharing a stage with everyone from Massive Attack to Morcheeba and Fiona Apple, were covered by the estimable Sarah Brightman, and wrote the theme song to the 2000 European Football Championship, which was seen by more than a billion people. MTV.com called them, “alluring, hip and cosmopolitan, sleek and meticulously produced.” But perhaps most tellingly, their music resonated significantly across a wide swath of the pop culture Zeitgeist. Indeed, various Hooverphonic tracks made notable appearances in the likes of Entourage, Permanent Midnight, CSI, Third Watch, La Femme Nikita, Cold Case and I Know What You Did Last Summer—as well as a major ad campaign for the VW Beetle. Now they are returning to The States hot on the triple-platinum success of a new album The Night Before, and flaunting a dazzling new singer (their third) in the person of 25-year-old Noémie Maria Alexis Ghislaine Wolfs. The record’s influences will be not unfamiliar to Hooverphonic devotees: the dramatic orchestral sweeps of Ennio Morricone, the cinematic evocations of John Barry, and the lavish pop sensibilities of Burt Bachrach. But The Night Before is a distinctly 21st Century confection, strikingly modernist yet underpinned by an almost primal visceral urgency, which is exhibited in such gorgeous, widescreen heart-stoppers as “More,” “Sunday Afternoon,” and the extravagantly cinematic “Anger Never Dies.” Core members Alex Callier and Raymond Geerts are in exquisite musical form on The Night Before. Having trimmed some of Hooverphonic’s more enigmatic edges, they’ve put the hooks and melodies decisively front and center. Thus Wolfs’ winsomely melancholy vocals, recalling everyone from Patsy Cline to Elizabeth Fraser, are allowed to soar unencumbered to dizzying emotional heights. Callier enthuses, “I’ve got this feeling that we’ll get further with Noémie than was ever possible before.” With so many trends on seemingly on endless repeat, Hooverphonic have made a record that draws its greatest strengths from the hallmarks of great pop songwriting, while also standing tall as a stunningly contemporary work.