If there was ever a question as to where French producer Madeon’s musical DNA lies, check out “Pop Culture,” his three-and-a-half-minute mashup of The Black Eyed Peas, ELO, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Daft Punk, Linkin Park, and about 30 other history-changing artists. That 2011 viral clip established the then-17-year-old Hugo Leclercq as a pop- and dance-music savant, someone who could drill down and extract a song's emotional core while keeping things upbeat, danceable, gleefully fun, and unpredictable. Eight years later—after he parlayed those skills into producing and writing for the likes of Lady Gaga, Two Door Cinema Club, and Coldplay—Good Faith, Madeon’s second album, proves that his instincts for making his own synth-driven hybrid pop are only more pronounced. And more personal.
On the heels of his 2015 debut LP, Adventure, Madeon set up shop in New York for an intensive studio session, from which the ideas for Good Faith began to take shape. Along with inspiring an eventual move to Los Angeles, that time spent gave him a new sense of himself as a producer and songwriter, but also as a singer. His voice, which he first experimented with a bit on Adventure, is in fuller bloom here, providing a deeper connection to the person behind the songs and showing his ability to shift between genres. Opener “Dream Dream Dream” is a downtempo gospel/R&B tune (featuring an actual choir he recorded), and “Nirvana” and “Mania” are more like cinematic slow jams—the kind of songs that might soundtrack the end credits to an action film with a complex antihero at its center. But what’s more interesting is the nuance with which Madeon approaches his writing. Talking about “Be Fine” on his Good Faith Radio show on Beats 1, he hinted at the ambiguity—those delicate shades between light and dark—that makes this album so compelling: “It’s a song I wrote about joy—but sometimes joy is dangerous,” he said. “Sometimes joy comes from the wrong place, and being fine can mean different things. If you listen to it and see it as a celebration of joy, that’s great. But if you hear something else, that’s very valid.”