Renegade Breakdown marks the rebirth of Marie Davidson, as she leaves behind the disorientating world of clubs to form new electronic pop band Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu.
Renegade Breakdown marks Marie Davidson’s retirement from techno and club music. Now Davidson has joined forces with her husband Pierre Guerineau and long-time friend and collaborator Asaël R.Robitaille, to form new band Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu.
When Davidson first announced that she was leaving techno music behind, the news was gutting — her last techno album Working Class Woman (2018), is a masterpiece. In retrospect, the break makes sense. Working Class Woman is characterized by the feelings of isolation and anxiety that Davidson was experiencing when touring. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any insomnia-fuelled 4am sonic exploration. The song ‘Workaholic Paranoid Bitch’ perhaps sums up the album most succinctly.
If Working Class Woman is the sound of insomnia at its peak, Renegade Breakdown is the album for when the first light begins to seep through the curtains. It maintains a distinct night-time feel, a little disorientating, but dreamy and glimmering with hope. Following Davidson’s disillusionment with the club scene, in Renegade Breakdown, she draws on harnesses diverse musical influences to begin her next chapter. “There are no money-makers on this record; I’m exploring the loser’s point of view,” she warns us.
‘Renegade Breakdown’ is a very successful bridge between Davidson’s old and new styles. The lyrics are both humorous and scathing, a balance that Davidson has often played around with, and that she even references in the song: “My life is anti-strategic/Lying between comic and tragic.” The penetrating beat has a sense of urgency but takes a backseat to the biting lyrics: “How do you come up with such meaningless / Your cheap headlines, your lazy writing / I wonder how it feels for you to sit around all day.”
The second single from the album, ‘Worst Comes to Worst’, is a disco-pop song that is both catchy and celebratory — two words definitely not suited to Davidson’s dark and experimental solo works. The lyrics could be plucked out of any successful pop song: “Oh, and I want you close to me / Show me, show me, show me, show me […] Show me the way / Boy you really got me stuck.” But it isn’t dull; it is vibrant and very danceable, as well as a great showcase of Davidson’s diverse musical talent.
There are points at which the album takes a turn towards the dark. ‘Lead Sister’ is particularly sinister, crawling towards a deeply unsettling soundscape, with throbbing and glitchy interruptions. At other times, Renegade Breakdown serenades the listener with swooning songs such as ‘Just In My Head’ and ‘My Love’, fulfilling Davidson’s desire to create “chansons.”
This new side of Marie Davidson could open her up to an entirely new audience.
There is part of me that will miss the vitriolic sound I fell in love with, but another that rejoices over this new direction. Either way, I will be paying close attention to her future endeavors as she has proven herself to be an endlessly innovative and adaptable artist.