On New Love’s title track Cafeine’s songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Xavier Cafeine offers guidance with the line “spread your feathers and get some height”. The song is an upbeat anthem on finding new love that inspires you to break the monotony that life can develop. Based on the aforementioned line, the track and album as a whole can be seen as the French-Canadian Cafeine’s desire to reach ears far outside of Quebec.
From the start it is clear that this album is a project that has consumed Cafeine’s efforts in more ways than one. New Love, the follow up to 2009’s Bushido, features overtly personal lyrics. Additionally, Xavier played all the instruments found on the record to create a series of songs that range from new wave to alternative.
Cafeine explores several variations of love within New Love. With over half of the album’s tracks containing “love” in the title the constant theme becomes trite more often than it hits the mark. The poppy French-spoken “Lettres d’amour” is one of the album’s highlights, guided by its repetitive guitar riff and call and response chorus. Next, the bouncy “I Love You” feels like a watered down Bloc Party song with its high-pitched synth and reverb vocals. The endearing title is completely ruined when crassly preceded by, “Hey bitch I got a message for you.”
Fortunately, Cafeine realizes his shortcomings as a lyricist and directly acknowledges this on “Fucking Time”. “Wish my songs were a little more clever, at least they fucking rhyme” he sings along with a series of lamentations on how there is no fucking time. This acceptance of his often simplistic songwriting helps make the song one of the album’s most enjoyable tracks, eschewing complexity for a fun song that is easy to relate to. The dark tones and brooding vocals fit the downtrodden tale of a city without love on “No Love”. The loveless city is described with Halloween type imagery of ghosts and vampire. “Black Swans”, the whistle infused album closer is another somber track but Cafeine finds joy in knowing there are others that share his outlook.
New Love is a compilation of songs that allows its writer to voice his feelings on love. The songs, much like his feelings on love, are varied. At some points this draws the listener in, while at others it drives them away. It is not a great album, but there is enough substance to draw in new listeners and “get some height” as we know Cafeine strives for.