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Malajube, a quartet from Montreal, seems poised to be the next breakout success from our neighbors to the north. How do I know this? Because the Fader is running a feature on them—as well as sponsoring their Chicago debut tomorrow night at Darkroom—and Pitchfork gave their debut album an 8.2, favorably comparing them to a handful of bands that the Web site likes to wax poetic over: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Broken Social Scene, and Wolf Parade. Yeah, those points of reference didn’t help me understand the band better either, but I'll admit that after a couple of listens I'm impressed with their recent debut album, Trompe-L’oeil (Dare to Care).
The band sets strong pop hooks that remind me of the top-40 songs I listened to growing up in the 70s to dense, intricate arrangements that bristle with energy and tension. The vocals are exclusively in French, though there are also plenty of nice wordless vocal harmonies—which, for a nice change, don't rip off the Beach Boys. The line between the chugging guitars and treated keyboards is blurred, as is any kind of precision in the arrangements; the band delivers thick walls of sound (but not noise). There are certainly lots of indie rock signposts in the music, like the Flaming Lips and Super Furry Animals—I even hear a touch of Sigur Ros in the soaring voices, even though Malajube’s aggressive instrumental attack couldn’t be further from that Icelandic band. I tend to get nervous when other indie rock bands are a group's obvious reference points, and anything that gets gushing kudos from Pitchfork always gives me pause, but it’s certainly an exciting debut. The band is playing one of those free showcases at the Darkroom tomorrow night. An e-mail I got about the gig said the deadline to reserve spots on the guest list was noon today—sorry, Charlie. You still might try contacting the club to see if there’s a way in.