Madeon’s Debut Album, Adventure, Celebrates Sixth Anniversary
March 30th, 2021 marked the 6th year since Hugo Pierre Leclercq released his first album, Adventure.
April 4, 2021
Madeon, along with other artists, wished the Adventure album its sixth “birthday” on March 30th this year. The French producer has come a long way since his first widely acclaimed track, Pop Culture, in 2011. Madeon disclosed his direction with the album in an interview with PopJustice: “With Adventure, I wanted to capture the feeling and sensibility of my teenage years. I wanted the album to start very vibrant and pop and end with a more contemplative tone. In making the record I both collaborated in the studio with some of my favorite musicians, and wrote and performed vocals on songs myself, two things I hadn’t really done before with my own music.”
In barely a minute, Madeon manages to introduce the tone for the rest of the album with a quickly accelerating tempo and a beat drop that seamlessly leads right into the second track in the album, You’re On. Although it contains no words (like many other songs in the album), Isometric easily captures the sensation of a “liftoff”.
You’re On (3:12)
Inspired by Madeon’s love for pop music, You’re On plays out as a more contemporary pop song with elements from electropop fluidly combined to create an upbeat track featuring vocals from Kyan. Released on December 15th, 2014, You’re On was the second single from Adventure, contrasting greatly from Imperium, the first single released and the seventh track on the album. The song also has the first music video of the album, starring Felicia Holmgren as Asteria and Oscar Lindblad as Icarus as they attempt to escape the mundane life of the city.
Incorporating previously scrapped vocals from Charli XCX, Madeon’s fluid splicing of the vocals transforms OK into what seems to be solely an instrumental song. With a consistent beat, the third track in Adventure is an energetic song that is far more than just “OK”.
La Lune (3:39)
Named after the French word for “the moon”, La Lune contrasts with the otherwise upbeat tone of the previous three tracks of Adventure and takes a break to reflect on embracing change, even if it means moving on from the past and old friends. The song also features incredible vocals from Dan Smith, lead singer of Bastille. Madeon mentioned in an interview with BBC that he “literally chased him [Smith] around the world…It was all quite chaotic but certainly a unique moment. I was so grateful he took the time to come.”
Pay No Mind (4:09)
In Adventure’s third single (released February 9th, 2015), Madeon features vocals from Passion Pit and a lively tone paired with lyrics about focusing on staying true to your own identity while ignoring the harsh judgment of others. Pay No Mind also has the second music video in the album’s trilogy, with the duo introduced in You’re On solving various puzzles within their city in order to escape to the tower pictured in the distance and also in Adventure cover art.
While maintaining the energy of the first five tracks, Beings comprises of a more light-hearted, whimsical beat. It delivers a message about following intention over destiny, and becoming “who we meant to be” rather than “who we are meant to be”, as clarified by Madeon himself. The track is also the first in the album to feature Madeon’s own vocals, which were fairly rare for him to use in his earlier career.
Madeon’s leading single starkly contrasts with the rest of the album, serving as a turning point from the upbeat songs to the more emotionally heavy tracks. In a press release, he explained that “Imperium is probably one of the hardest sounding songs I’ve made. It was inspired by the past couple of years of touring around the world. My intention was to write something that was fuelled by the energy of dance music but with a narrative element. It doesn’t sound like anything else on the album yet it’s an important part of it, it’s the transition between two phases. I wanted to capture the feeling of ‘confidently walking into adversity.’”
Additionally, the official audio features a split second of the Imperial Alphabet, a self-made code Madeon has used in both his Adventure and Good Faith eras to leave secret messages, as he is known for hiding cryptic puzzles. When translated into binary and then into English, the text reads “find the diamond”, possibly referring to his signature symbol.
Named after the west wind in Greek mythology, or the modern word for a gentle breeze, Zephyr tackles feeling homesick or lost. With Madeon’s own vocals and a slightly somber tone, the track artfully continues the spirit of Adventure.
The fifth single (released November 17th, 2015) features vocals from Mark Foster, from the band “Foster the People”, and the final music video in the Adventure trilogy, in which Asteria and Icarus cross the desert surrounding the city and finally reach the tower. Unlike previous works, Madeon said in an interview that he “came [to the studio] with nothing prepared. Just my computer, me, and Mark, and we wrote the song from scratch. It was actually my birthday, so we celebrated. It was the best time.” With a more cheery tone and lyrics, Nonsense contributes to Adventure’s lively atmosphere.
Featuring vocals from Aquilo, Innocence is the most melancholy song in Adventure. Its lyrics encompass the internal dialogue that comes with facing betrayal and mistakes. While Madeon’s style can still easily be traced, the tenth track in Adventure does a considerable amount of emotional heavy lifting.
Pixel Empire (4:04)
In the eleventh track, Madeon has a steady build-up that slowly to leads into two impactful crescendos. Despite its heavy techno chops, Pixel Empire flows smoothly.
The final track of the standard Adventure album had a unique production that gave it an air of hope and finality. In a series of tweets, Madeon revealed that “I have this thing I do about once a year. I lock myself in the studio for 24 hours and make two or three new songs from start to finish. By the 18th hour, the combination of sleep deprivation, creative frustration and isolation put me in this weird vulnerable state. I kind of felt like giving up on music at the time to be honest, so I made a song about that. Because I was alone in the studio and had a microphone, I ended up recording it myself and finished producing it in the few hours remaining.”
Originally, the instrumental electro-based track was released on February 24th, 2012 (produced when Madeon was only 17 years old) and peaked as the fifth most popular dance single in the UK. The positively electric single was even featured in Forza Horizon!
Released as a single July 22nd, 2012 (and later featured in a separate EP), Finale includes vocals from Nicholas Petricca. The track has a bold take on Adventure’s theme and has been featured in various video games and commercials. It’s dynamic beat stands out among the rest of the Adventure album.
The City (3:53)
On August 27th, 2012, The City was released, featuring vocals from Zak Waters and Cass Lowe. On September 18th 2012, Madeon’s first ever music video was released accompanying the song. While leaning towards the electro genre, the 15th track’s pop influence is evident in its robust beat and lyrics.
Cut the Kid (3:17)
After fans solved a puzzle, Cut the Kid (with “Cut” being the name of “the Kid”) was released in February 2014. Although the numerous vocal chops can be jarring at first, the extremely catchy beat and elaborate build ups make Cut the Kid a unique and memorable track.
“My goal was to tell a story through dance music using a longer structure than what I’ve done before.” typed Madeon on Technicolor’s original SoundCloud page, when it was released in 2013. With a significantly longer time than the other tracks, he incorporates a variety of sounds and beat drops to separate the segments of the song. Indeed, the listener can clearly identify a sort of “story” in the powerful progression of this track.
Only Way Out (3:46)
In the final track of Adventure (Deluxe), Madeon concludes with a dreamy, almost surreal atmosphere. Featuring vocals from Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Only Way Out deals solemnly with the idea of loyalty and perseverance despite circumstances in its grim but earnest lyrics.
Overall, Madeon’s Adventure album is a masterpiece that keeps listeners coming back to relive their momentous nostalgia alongside the energetic peaks. Although he is now a fully realized artist at 26 years old, Adventure marked a truly transformative moment in Leclerq’s life, as he reflected upon his experience as a teenager and the many trials, tribulations, and joys of life, captured within little over an hour. In November 2019, Madeon returned to the scene with his album Good Faith, where the foundations he established as a vocalist and producer in Adventure were built upon. His work has truly moved many, and one can only eagerly await to listen to his next piece of poignant, spirited art.