One of the most credible rock theories currently doing the rounds in student JCRs and pubs nationwide goes like this: 2003 equals 1983. The evidence? Intense young men like Interpol are busy mining the drizzly sounds of Factory Records for inspiration, Coldplay are palling around with Ian McCulloch and bands like The Rapture are attempting to recreate the poppers-blasted atmos of New York’s legendary punk-funk melting pot The Paradise Garage. Even psychobilly?formerly the least cool music ever made?is back in the shape of Brighton oddballs The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, with their brothel creepers, twangy guitars and quiffs.
Parisian Marc Nguyen’s (right) first album does much to bolster this hypothesis. Halfway through Again is a track called “Where”, propelled by a half-inched Stephen Morris drum rumble that makes it sound like a New Order outtake. Closer “Colder” even sounds like Cabaret Voltaire. Like Kraftwerk or Ladytron, Nguyen specialises in giving definition to the ghosts in the machine, providing them with a soundtrack constructed from a sleek Eurodisco pulse, minimal techno and echoey dub noises. “Shiny Star” references Philip Glass-type modern classical, “Crazy Love” utilises flickery Morricone spy theme guitars and elsewhere the spirits of Sly & Robbie, Massive Attack and Autechre dance by.
Yet Colder are not as chilly a proposition as you’d expect. Nguyen’s music has a European froideur, but there’s a warmth and humanity to it. He manages to give heart even to the bits of his record that sound like they could be soundtracking a Eurostar advert, weaving in samples of street noise, infotainment babble and party chatter. Like all good electronic music, Colder get the balance between surface and feeling just right.