For those of you who don’t live in France (well, for every one of you), let’s introduce Mat Bastard. Mat has been the leader of french rock band Skip The Use, which popularity has been growing during the 2010’s, until the band’s breakup announcement by the end of 2016. With Shaka Ponk, they were the two bands that brought rock back to the mainstream radios or TV channels in France, and for this, we owe them a lot. But when Mat Bastard, charismatic leader of the late band, announced this album, we didn’t really know what to expect. A solo record is a hit-or-miss, and this one is clearly a hit. Did you think that the man would heed the siren song of commercial pop ? That he would botch it up in order to release a record as quickly as possible ? Well that is totally incorrect.
From the first seconds, you know that this record is going to be great, as opener Wild sets the tone : an energetic rock sound, accompanied by Mat’s recognizable voice, punk influences and a sense of melody that’s undeniable. Throughout his career, Bastard has shown us that he was a true music lover, and this album is a perfect addition in this way : I dare you to show me two songs on LOOV that sound the same !
It’s hard to spot major flaws in this 14 pieces release, but on the contrary, standout tracks are quite many. Stand As One, with its blending of English and French, its message of love and this infectious chorus, is set to become at least a fan favorite during Bastard’s live shows. But honestly, a good handful of other songs have this potential too. Offspring-esque Stay Close To Me is going to be a perfect show closer -as Bastard Song, Skip The Use’s ending song back when the band was active- and Grave of Broken Dreams‘ vibe will make you feel like it’s summer all year long ! Rosemary sounds like it’s been written by Panic ! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie’s punk doppelganger, and Vivre Mieux is a proud descendent of French punk anthems, with this incendiary rhythm and a middle finger sung to everyone who wants to control us. Speaking of us, unity is a lyrical theme that you can find throughout the record and Bastard’s inclusive message, combined with the positivity that emanates from these compositions, and this is something that’s definitely needed right now.
You’ll also find some more radio-friendly songs (first single More Than Friends, the beautiful electro-rock Honestly, and the solar English pop-influenced No Remedy), but these tracks are as good as all the others, and that’s what’s the strength of this record. Mat Bastard does it all, and he does it incredibly good !
Next step is to see how these songs will turn out live, because the French do know, Mat Bastard is a hell of a beast live !
Rating : 5/5