Published Nov 16, 2018It's been a busy year for Hubert Lenoir. The 24-year-old artist shared his startlingly adventurous debut album, Darlène, (a "postmodern-opera," in Lenoir's own words), seized attention with a forceful performance on Quebecois talent show La Voix (featuring his flashing the camera with a fleur-de-lis tatted rear), and his album ranked amongst this year's Polaris Shortlist nominees.
Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that Lenoir might want a bit of a break: to take stock of where he has been and where he might go from here. With the until-now unreleased Midnight, Let's Get a Hotdog, the collective of Hubert and his brother Julien share a document of this reflection, a wonderfully effortless testament to beginnings lined with psych, glam and spirit.
If Lenoir's debut Darlène created a shapeshifting world of lurid, boundless pop — the musical equivalent of a Xavier Dolan film — Midnight, Let's Get a Hotdog shows that world in genesis. Mixed in just 11 days by the late Richard Swift, the Seasons draw their musical orientation from the dishevelled rock of the '70s, laced with a pop sensibility. There's the thudding ecstasy of opener "The American Way to Dream," which finds Lenoir sinking his teeth into life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ("I'm the creamiest of the cream!" he shouts), as well as the "Gimme Shelter"-esque sprawl of lead single "Junk."
While certainly traditional in a sense, these campy approximations at genre tropes read as playful rather than derivative, leaning into the very nostalgic ideal that the record lampoons. Through this, we get a glimpse of Lenoir's budding sensibility for universe and narrative building, shaping the record's own kind of internal fever logic: "Tangerine" tells of "drinking a whole lot of tangerine, tender leaf," while album highlight "Family Tree" laments "I want to run for president, but I'm too short!" It's a weird and wonderful landscape, bound together by the Seasons' ability to find a thread of reason in the unreasonable.
Far from a snapshot of an artist's growing pains, Midnight, Let's Get a Hotdog is a complex and joyful record in its own right. (Simone)