Review : "Welcome to the modern dancehall" (The Belgian Pop & Rock Archives, 1999)

My opinion

This debut-cd of Venus has earned the dubious honour of being the most dissapointing release of the year for me. Admittedly, in order to dissapoint, ther have to be high expectations, and those were here, on the basis of a few song on "Royalsucker", their debut-EP of about a year ago. Acoustic rock, power without electric guitars or keyboards, but driven by strings : it is an original angle. More-over, Venus has already a solid live-reputation, based on their visually attractive show, that reaches already some way across the Belgian frontiers (especially Italy loves 'em).
During the first times I put this record on, the most part of the song did really get heavily on my nerves : what an overacting !! The singer, Marc Huygens, is agonizing, except for in the quieter parts. Never thought that subtility could be so far away with guys playing acoustic instruments. When you expect to be touched, surprised and charmed by a band with some intelligence and theatrical insight, all you get is a very big headache.
After a couple of more times listening to it, this situation turns for the better (only "Ball room", "Out of breath", "Perfect Lover", "White star line", "Bass, shivering bass" still sit on my stomach like a heavy meal). But the beautiful things that are surely on the cd ("I am the ocean", "Pop Song", "Don't say you need love" and the miniatures "Dizzy" and "Lisa Little Racket") do not push the end-balance sufficiently in the right direction.
Welcome to the Modern Dance Hall? Thanks, but no thanks.

This Album in the Press

- Stage (B-Nl), november 1999 : "This is a surprisingly rich album with lots of unpredictable ins and outs that provide the listener with a pleasant rollercoastertrip all the way to the end of the cd. Everything has been recorded acoustically in large spaces to make a sound that's natural, warm and human. ... The classical tone that characterizes this album never is posh or calculated, but is an organic part of the style of this very promising band. Full steam ahead and don't look back, boys.".
- Rif-Raf (B-fr), oktobre '99 : "D'emblée, une question se pose : Venus sera-t-il la révélation Belge de cette deuxième partie de fausse fin de siècle où un simple pétard mouillé ? ... Avec Venus l'spressivité se fait muette, intrigante. Elle jette un voile trouble sur les pistes d'approches, de préhension, elle creuse les distances. C'est là que réside le challenge des Belges : faire accepter une musique mûre, mise continuellement et intentionellement à l'épreuve et qui démande quelque effort, heureusement, bien vite récompensés."
- Mofo, septembre '99 : "Il etait attendu, et il est finalement venu, le premier album de Venus … une reussite émotionnelle!!"
- Flavio Brighenti "Musica!" (It) - 21/10/1999 "Venusiani del rock unitevi … sta per diffondersi, anche in Itali, un'ottima terapia antistress, naturalmente sonica … si chiama Venus … insieme ai connazionali dEUS, una ghiotta sorpresa"

Dirk Houbrechts

Read the full article at the Belgian Pop & Rock Archives.
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