Vitalic’s vision of the “rave” in the 2000s seemed as homegrown and independent as it was in the 1980s—based in the garage, the backyard or the tiny, sweaty club. Back in 2005, OK Cowboy was the underrated shit, improving upon Daft Punk’s own formula from Human After All and even softening the edges of Justice ever so slightly. In this new decade and on his third studio LP Rave Age, Pascal Arbez’s hard electro project sounds positively conventional.
The biggest difference between then and now, and even between 2009’s Flashmob and now, seems to be a significant reliance on abstract and generic party time vocals. It’s a disappointing development, one that makes a sizable chunk of this album—including “Next I’m Ready,” “Rave Kids Go,” “Fade Away” and even the successful “Under Your Sun”—echo the most over-downloaded neo-disco of David Guetta or deadmau5.
Rave Age might suggest Vitalic bowing too often to the demands of the mainstream when he really should be and has been above that. And yes, the moments where he gets to meet past expectations are fleeting: The pensive feel of “Nexus” and “The Legend of Kaspar Hauer” is actually refreshing, while “The March of Skabah” comes closest to the drum corps programming and bumblebee synths of his debut. In reality, Vitalic isn’t biting other people’s styles. Rather, today’s electronica acts for better or worse have caught up to where Vitalic once was.