‘The alure of Azure’. L’Avenue’s new EP release reviewed

Jesse Reuben Wilson has been sonically satisfying us now for a few years. Better known as L’Avenue, Jesse’s sound is unique. Distinct. Original. Rare. Smooth. In these times of uncertainty, strange rules and pub apps, L’Avenue is the escapism that we all need.. Not just from our screens.. but from our stresses and strains. So it is with enthusiasm that I opened an email from Jessie and sat down on a wet Sunday afternoon to listen to his new EP ‘Azure’. 

Now before we get into it.. just a few observations.. Jesse is a funny, loud and engaging guy with his fair share of shit puns and jokes but with an awesome ear for music (I say this as I know he has enjoyed some of my vaporwave offerings on Forever Synth in recent weeks) His personality is quite the opposite of the enveloping dreamy sun-kissed vibes that he takes the time to create for us. Artists that I admire have that eye and that ear to develop ideas and let them flow, regardless of where is takes them. There are no rules for those folk. No genre stamp books that must be filled. They just want to create. Jesse is one of those artists.

‘Azure’ is described by Jesse as a departure from his usual sound with a theme of vacation and escapism. Personally I found Azure to still be very much in the style that we have come to enjoy from L’Avenue, but granted, there is a slight deviation into the chillwave world currently populated by artists such as Duett and even Runners Club ’95 from a vapor point of view. The world needs more of this music. 

Opening with the title track ‘Azure’ we are introduced to those baseline synth chords that sit in that lovely spot that directs the track but also softly brushes your eardrum. Azure is light and would comfortably soundtrack a champagne party 10 miles out to sea.

‘Horizon’ is up next and immediately it feels that we have moved from daytime to night. Shades of Elliot Goldenthal’s contributions to the score from Michael Mann’s 1995 thriller ‘Heat’ are certainly evident and welcomed. ‘Horizon’ feels like it could soundtrack an encounter at a whisky bar at 3am as easily as it could fuel a streetlight car chase. Impressive work. Very lovely work.

Horizon

Whilst L’Avenue maintains those summer vibes, the percussion in ‘Erica’ feels almost Amazonian. Richness again fills this track and we are treated to some very relaxing chord sequences. This is the first time on ‘Azure’ we hear the woodwind talents of Alex Bone (having previously worked on L’Avenue’s track ‘Kelly’). The inclusion of the saxophone is something many artists have done in recent years with mixed results. Alex’s work here is not overstated, but softly separates the first half of the song from the second. Well balanced. Well executed.

‘Plaza’ is another track to include the work of saxophonist Alex Bone, This time round Alex’s contribution arrives from the start with beautiful results. The ‘booooooowwwwwww’ drops (for which the technical name escapes me now!) are almost edible and the whole track feels like an homage to every 80s movie beach love scene. And by that I mean 45% of Cocktail. 

Finally we have my highlight of the album – ‘Broken Dreams’. An intentional homage to the Mr Mister track ‘Broken Wings’, there are some purposeful mimicked sonics but just enough for you to think you know the song.. I found myself becoming nostalgic for a track that has only just been released. Not a bad thing to achieve!

‘Azure’ is a slight change for L’Avenue but nothing too dramatic. It’s a summer EP that continues to take Jesse’s distinct, almost auteur-like visual palette and drop it into a well needed holiday. The sounds are light but rich in detail and mixing and mastering are on point.

I’ve often described EPs with these rich layers of synth as akin to a blanket or duvet. ‘Azure’ is a factor 30 sun lotion with a coconut scent. 

‘Azure’ is out everywhere on all platforms on 14th August 2021 with a “clear” vinyl pre-order. In the meantime you can grab both ‘Horizon’ and ‘Plaza on L’Avenue’s Bandcamp page here.

Now you’ll need to excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.