Loïc Nottet finally unleashes ambitious debut record
It is a big day for every single fan of Loïc Nottet out there. The Belgian pop star finally releases his debut record. Nottet gained fame back in 2014 when he finished as the runner-up in the Belgian version of the voice and a year later he successfully represented his country in Eurovision with the track ‘Rhythm Inside’, reaching a 4th position. It took him over a year to follow this up, but at the end of 2016 we finally got to hear the successful new track ‘Million Eyes’, the first single taken from the record Selfocracy. After listening to the whole album it is easy to understand why it took him so long. This is one ambitious and eclectic debut!
The title Selfocracy comes from the idea that people these days are way too focused on themselves, using the image of looking at yourself in the mirror to visualize this. On the intro of the record a young male voice over explains how his mother warned him not to stare at his own reflection as ‘many among us lose themselves in mirrors’. Quite a big theme to take on, but Loïc Nottet does so with a whole lot of passion and ambition. We get a glimpse at the world through the eyes of a young adult, just like Lorde presented on her debut album, but Selfocracy takes it a whole lot further in terms of drama and bombast with loud drums, belting vocals and omnipresent choirs.
The album opens with the fast paced electronic pop of ‘Mud Blood’ with an excellent hook in the chorus. Both the production and his vocals are quite in your face and the track sets the mood for the rest of the record. ‘Team8’ immediately follows, delivers some of the best and rawest vocals, but sounds a little too similar to its predecessor in terms of sound, something that is proven by album closer ‘Mirror’ where Nottet repeats the choruses of some tracks after another. Luckily, the rest of the album is a whole lot more diverse and dynamic!
‘Dirty’ is a powerful and poppy statement about getting back on your feet after being broken down by others. That chorus echoes as similar vibe to Troye Sivan’s ‘Wild’ and should go straight on the radio! First single ‘Million Eyes’ deals with a similar theme, with some Sia influences hearable both in terms of production and vocal style. Nottet dives deeper into the world of electronica and vocal effects on the Raphaella collaboration ‘Wolves’, on which their voices blend beautifully over a subtle layer of synths and beats. On the verses of ‘Whisperers’, Nottet shows off the more soulful side of his characteristic vocals. As his way of singing is quite intense, it is great to hear a more subdued sound to balance the record.
The over 6 minutes long track ‘Poison’ is the true testament of exactly how daring, ambitious and unconventional the songwriting of this young pop star gets. The chorus has a unique but powerful and insanely catchy hook, while the rap by Shogun has a curious placement within the track. The drums roll on, taking Loïc’s dramatic vocals to higher heights while being stimulated by some bombastic choir touches.
By stating how ambitious Loïc Nottet’s debut is, I’m not saying it is flawless. The recycling of melodies and the urge to sometimes clunkily rhyme all the words in the chorus are definitely areas in which he can grow and even with his vocal power less can be more at times. Still I applaud him for having the courage to take on big themes, thinking out of the box in terms of productions and lyrics and delivering a debut album that straight up reaches for the stars!