Review Summary: 26 minutes of pure nostalgia, underpinned by catchy, lively melodies.
Emo is a very unique genre of music in the sense that it often gives off a sense of nostalgia in a way in which seemingly no other genre of music can. The lively melodies of legendary 90s bands such as American Football and Sunny Day Real Estate are often synonymous with images of summer holidays in suburban America, the sun glistening in a cloudless sky. Even new emo music can evoke such imagery and nostalgia, even if one has only listened to it for the first time now. Some albums just have an inherent vibe which serves a throwback to the aforementioned bands.
'Bon Voyage' by French emo band 'Sport' is certainly one of these albums. Combining the 'twinkly'-sounding guitars typical to emo with the raw energy of punk music, 'Bon Voyage' is currently (and is likely to remain) one of the liveliest, effervescent records of 2014.
The album starts off with wistful guitar chords being plucked behind a sample from the movie 'Stand by Me' , setting the tone for the rest of the album. Although samples are often seen as a nuisance in music, this one fits absolutely perfectly with the nostalgic, youthful vibe of the album.
From then on, the listener is launched into some of the vibrant, buoyant melodies of 2014 thus far. Hooks on songs like 'Jacques Mayol' and 'Ulrike Maier' are almost impossible not to sing along to, or at least bob your head to. The vocalist here isn't exactly the most polished singer in the world, but in a genre which often relies on emotion and power over technical proficiency (particularly in the vocal department), this doesn't matter all that much. The vocals on here are catchy and infectious, often shouted in a very punk-influenced style.
However, backup vocals are very prominent on this record, often to the extent that there seems to be a distinct lack of a lead vocalist. The fact that the backup vocalist(s) sings in an almost identical style to the lead vocalist makes it hard to distinguish between the two, and so despite the catchy nature of the vocal lines, the lack of variation is one of the album's biggest hindrances.
The guitars are the absolute highlight of the album. Leaning more towards an emo style of playing, the guitarists on 'Bon Voyage' seem to be heavily inspired by 'twinkle kings' American Football and Algernon Cadwallader. The tone achieved here is perfect for this style of playing, and there seems to be an equal distribution of clean and distorted riffs.
The guitars have a punk-tinged sound to them as well, particularly on songs like 'Andre the Giant'; a lively, energetic song reaching just over a minute in length, accompanied by a blistering drum attack. The drums themselves do not follow this formula for the whole album, often staying fairly low-key and keeping things in time, whereas the bass is fairly audible throughout, particularly on the aforementioned 'Jacques Mayol' .
All of Sport's best qualities on this record are summed up in the song 'Charles Lindbergh' . One of the album's longest songs (at a whopping 3 minutes and 49 seconds), the song starts off with a typical dazzling emo lead, before spectacularly increasing in tempo with an absolutely delightful riff around the 50 second mark and ending in a gorgeous finger-picked melody.
If there was a record that embodied the innocence of youthful exuberance, 'Bon Voyage' would be it. Despite a glaring lack of variation throughout, this is an extremely fun listen and one that shouldn't be missed if you're a fan of the 90s style of emo music. There is unlikely to be an album more animated and bustling than this in 2014, so grab a beer, sit back in the sun and enjoy the 26 minute-long ride.