Madeon dabbles in pop, addresses self-worth and success on debut album ‘Adventure’
While most kids his age were playing Xbox and reading The Hunger Games, Hugo Pierre Leclercq was quietly learning the ins-and-outs of music production. Hugo began composing electronic music at age 11, and by 16, had already won an official remix contest for Pendulum’s “The Island” under the name Madeon. By age 17, he caught the attention of deadmau5 with his remix to “Raise Your Weapon,” only to enrapture the internet soon after with his performance video of “Pop Culture.” Now, three years later, electronic music’s favorite French prodigy has released his debut album, Adventure.
For an artist who built his namesake releasing just one or two tracks a year, it’s a pretty significant deal to see an LP of 12 new tracks (18 on the deluxe version) come to light. Yet, there’s a sense that every move Madeon has made in his career thus far has been building up to this point. From the moment “Icarus” was first unveiled in 2011, one got the feeling that we’d only experienced the tip of the iceberg of young Leclercq’s career. Little did we know the creative depths of what lay beneath.
With his new record signed to Colombia — the same home as his French companions Daft Punk — Madeon has delivered what can only be described as an incredible debut. To produce the album, he’s collaborated with some of his biggest heroes, from Mark Foster of Foster the People to Dan Smith of Bastille — which is saying a lot for an artist just now breaking into his 20s.
“My intention with the album was to capture my teenage years. I wanted it to start happy and colorful and end in a more contemplative place.”
Though a bit more pop-leaning than some of his previous work, Adventure bears all the hallmarks of Hugo’s studio prowess. There’s a refinement inherent to the record that is clearly the result of months on end spent perfecting the smallest details. Every move feels calculated; every element appears painstakingly reworked to precision. What becomes immediately obvious is the fact that Leclercq is clearly more interested in memorable songwriting than crafting dance floor ‘bangers’ per say. Tracks like “Nonsense” and “La Lune,” for example, pay conspicuous attention to their vocal counterparts.
Yet, Adventure is not without its fair share of engrossing instrumentals as well, from the superhero-like swagger of “Imperium” to the emotional potency of “Pixel Empire.”
Lastly, there’s the sheer variety of the album. Adventure dabbles in everything from indie and funk (such as the Passion Pit-assisted “Pay No Mind”) to more downtempo and dream pop selections (“Innocence” comes to mind). It’s also some of Madeon’s most personal work to date. The final track “Home,” for instance, was written in a state of “sleep deprivation, creative frustration and isolation,” and explores issues of self-worth and success.
All in all, Adventure is a worthy debut for one of dance music’s most promising talents, and clearly not the last full-length release we have to look forward to from the French maestro.