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  • Writer's pictureSpyros Psarras

Album Review: Folie A Deux | Son Savage

Here I am again with something generally mainstream, but Sanctum-wise pretty special. During the first 10 minutes of my session with Savage's debut I thought 'Ok, too pop for me, not Sanctum stuff' (said the man who was raised with Christina Aguilera and P!nk). As the album was progressing though, I felt that this sounds a bit too good to come out of an indie artist. This is actually a bad-ass, Max Martin-level approach to music and I would not miss the chance to witness Savage's artistic vision.

The experience begins with ‘Walking Away’ that has a disco quality and a chorus in the likes of Maroon5, both vocally and instrumental-wise. Even though this is only the beginning, it’s clear to see that Savage’s tone is made for international radio hits with his energetic performance reinforcing the pop persona he made for himself. As the beat gets flirty (but refined), brasses open ‘Sticky Situation’, an old-school anthem obviously inspired from times when pop was innocent and pure fun. It’s the 90’s and this is what I call the 'good' kind of pop. Soulful, fun and green yet mature enough to take it seriously.

And then we are transferred to Las Vegas. It’s night-time and we are driving under neon lights while ‘Sinner’ is blasting in the background. Savage is asking to be our tour guide for the night or maybe something more: ‘Let me make a sinner of you’. Sexy yet appropriate. When was the last time we heard of such a thing? It’s the 90’s, baby! Here the atmosphere is pretty much visualized by the album’s cover. Breeding Magenta, Blue and Yellow into a classic late 80’s image. ‘Superglue’ follows where NSync meets Daft Punk meets, again, Adam Levine. It’s the signature high notes, can’t help it.

‘The River’, a deserving single, is confident in its coolness with the artist harmonizing smoothly during the chorus ‘Down and down we go’. The performance here is just right. Laid-back without losing its energy, upbeat without losing a bit of its sophistication. This is a personal favourite and I’d be honoured to see this explode someday, considering I will have written about it beforehand! ‘Please Don’t Make My Heart Break’ is Backstreet Boys at their peak, revived into 2021. Everything here screams 90’s boy-band, from the lyrics, to the bittersweet vocal tone, to the overly romantic vibe and female backing vocals. It’s literally a tribute to the era, either purposefully or unknowingly! Summer-ish snares open ‘Love Therapy’ which is made of all the materials used in ‘The River’. No wonder this is again a single of Folie A Deux. A successful recipe which, in some other scenario, I wouldn’t mind seeing used repeatedly throughout the whole album. ‘Love Therapy’ sounds like it’s winking at us with the official music video being just as adorable and clever. The smoky face of Savage swallowing a heart-shaped pill sums it all up for me.

The slow burning ‘Ghost’ is a ‘hidden gem’ as we, LP enthusiasts call a treasure that managed to remain untouched by the insatiable mainstream audience. The subtle kicks echoing somewhere in the back throughout the verses together with the heavy beat of the chorus, offer the darker quality I was desperately missing. The vocals are the most ethereal yet, making the experience here one of the most memorable moments of the album and goes in my top3. Back to joy with ‘Better Than You’ giving off a strong TLC aroma at specific moments but not too obviously. It’s a brother to ‘Superglue’ and ‘Sticky Situation’ and that describes it perfectly. Now, if Savage was to represent his country at the Eurovision contest, ‘One-Man Disco’ would be his ticket. It’s powerful, catchy and epic in its own way. The best part is that these are the true colours of the artist we are talking about. Not made-up for Eurovision but authentically carrying many of its qualities. Something only the older audience (30-40) will understand.

A couple of surprises were kept for last, starting with the sensual ‘Spiraling’ giving us a whole new perspective of the artist with him getting all soulful and jazzy, almost erotic. The track is tinted with a blazing-red hue, overflowing with lust and emotion, maybe the most passionate performance so far. The orgasmic electric guitar confirms that he saved the best for last. The album fades with the sunshiny ‘Sunflower Anthem’ which sounds like a bonus track that does not belong 100% in here mood-wise but still offers a pleasurable, positive closure to an overall upbeat experience. It’s the song you mumble when you wake up on a Saturday morning, feeling like the king of the world, like no bad news will bring you down.

There you go. This is the least dark material the Sanctum has ever covered and still I feel proud to have embraced Savage's music for It's so hopeful to discover indie artists that can offer such quality on their own instead of being chained to record contracts. He clearly belongs in the frontline of today's pop battlefield bringing the long lost innocence of pop, when sexy was not slutty and having fun was a higher priority than provocation. From the vintage 'Please Don't Break My Heart' to the fiery 'Spiraling', Folie A Deux is a rich world to explore regardless of genre affinities. And by that I mean that a true music fan can only appreciate the undeniable love and effort put in this record. Very well done, Son Savage!

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