Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: Invada
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
Those of you who have seen, and subsequently enjoyed, the sleek minimalism of Cimmerian heist film Drive (which utilized College’s ‘A Real Hero’ on its soundtrack) understand the importance of aesthetic; an overarching sound and direction, certainly not a given in musical endeavours can destroy or buttress an album. David Grellier demonstrates an auteur’s sense of style on Heritage; the French electronic musician and Valerie Collective founder draws on a variety of inspirations to fashion his oeuvre, most notably light, urban landscapes, and the 1980s, and the end result is a sound, all cold and lush and fuchsia and black, of neon noir. In an interview with What’s on the Hi-Fi?, Grellier laid out a litany of influences for College–the “emotions of my childhood,” “80?s soaps,” “images of Los Angeles, Chicago, and all the other cities that I discovered through my television”–any and all of which are apparent here.
After that song was featured in Drive, French electronica producer Dave Grellier was always going to go global, and rightly so: prior to the 2011 Ryan Gosling movie College was just a member of the Valerie collective, the go to source for replica Eighties disco with a vinyl collector fan base. After ‘Real Hero’ went viral, the replica disco sound was in demand, and so there are cynics who’ll accuse Heritage of being a cash-in album; a record so awash in Cold War synths that it more or less forces anyone who hears it to buy a white jacket and stare into the middle distance. Followers of the Valerie collective will know that this is precisely College’s sound, the same one he’s been immersed in since 2008’s Secret Diary, and that if anything, Heritage takes the rather bold gamble of resisting guest vocals, the key ingredient of College’s biggest hit.
French electronica artist College, otherwise known as David Grellier, became known following the release of the brilliant Nicolas Winding Refn film Drive in 2011. Much of the film’s success was as owed to its phenomenal ’80s electropop soundtrack, which included the throbbing synths of College’s A Real Hero. The song could not have been more suited to the stylish film, and the recognition led to the upper echelons of the French charts.
Alpha 60, the computer city-mind of Jean-Luc Godard’s dystopian Alphaville, declares: “Everything has been said, provided words do not change their meanings, and meanings their words.” Words, however, change their meanings simply by the moment in time at which they’re spoken: the same river twice, and all that. But where does this leave retromania? Perhaps it’s unfair of me to say that, five or six years ago, with the Italo revival about to break and purveyors of this sound (let alone purveyors with College’s level of sophistication and attention to detail) few and far between, Heritage would have been an exciting album. And the final product is indeed classy — smooth and sleek, fully detailed with a luxe leather interior.
They’re not exact fits, but I have a hard time listening to Héritage without imagining some of the songs set to certain scenes in Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn’s abundantly stylish 2011 thriller that featured College’s Electric Youth collaboration, “A Real Hero”. The glowing thump of the new album’s “Depart” would be ideal accompaniment for the Driver, Irene, and Benicio hurtling down a Los Angeles levy, sun baking the windshield. There’s also that Gosling-Mulligan kiss right before he scatters pieces of his potential assailant’s nasal bones all over the elevator, to which the radiant “Revelation” would go nicely (during the kiss, that is).