Review: Rénovations – ‘Blank’

Rénovations caused heads to spin with the release of their debut album ‘Break The Frame’ in 2022, and with the quickfire release of the follow-up ‘Blank’, the Edinburgh-based Electro-Grunge trio are up to their old tricks again and fucking with anyone who simply has to pigeonhole a band into one particular genre.

Guitar-based to the max (thanks to the huge variety of tones that Ioana Pavel coaxes out of her guitar), and full of pop-sensibilities – loving the catchy-as-hell ‘Bed is in the Bathroom’ and the toe-tapping intro of ‘Time Is a Common Problem’  – Rénovations do not paint within the lines. It’s fresh, vibrant, and above all, uber-modern. Opening track ‘Precious Stone’ has a fantastic, pulsating feel that grows into an explosion of colourful, howling vocals from vocalist/bassist Charlotte Pulcino (the segments spoken/rapped in her native French, consciously or not, tip the hat to Blondie) and with the guitar sound from Ioana at times almost straying into progressive territory – as does the midsection of the song – Rénovations packs more twist and turns into four minutes than some bands do on an entire album.

The “Electro” aspect of the “Electro-Grunge” self-description comes courtesy of drummer Gian Sudar, and his synth work shines on the impressive ‘Yell’ – a track that at times is as equally dark and brooding as it is light and uplifting. The vocal hooks sink their teeth in and refuse to let go. On the Garbage/L7-like ‘Rinse and Wring’ it’s Gian’s nailed-on drum work that sticks out the most (as it does on the dreamy ‘Larguée’), along with the chanting gang vocals throughout. The tail-end of the album sees the return of the electro aspect, with ‘Forest’, ‘Grind Mentality’, and the Madonna-esque ‘Repetitions’ all popping out in glorious high-definition, and it’s easy to imagine these tracks popping up on a playlist that also features acts such as CHVRCHES. On the latter especially, there is a fantastic sneering, punky quality to Charlotte’s vocals (that might spark a comparison to Courtney Love) which mixes well with the EDM touches. ‘Euphoria’ is a class act. Executed in a Paul Oakenfold style, it’s simply massive, and as showstopping and soaring as this version is, it would be interesting to hear a version that is purely instrumental (like closing track ‘Sphere’). The mixture of EDM with crashing guitar riffs is perfect, and should Irvine Welsh conjure up another part of Trainspotting, then this is the ideal song for that mandatory nightclub scene.

The appeal of ‘Blank’ is that the listener doesn’t know what is coming next. With only two tracks passing four minutes, the songs are lean and don’t leave any room for excess fat. The variety on offer means that Rénovations could just as likely be local support for Taylor Swift and Paramore in Edinburgh next year, as they also could be for Queens of the Stone Age in Glasgow later this year – thanks to the majestical fury of ‘Scars’ which comes complete with a maelstrom of swirling guitar riffs and aggressive vocals that include a dash of harsh growls/screams. Although, the ideal scenario would be a tour with Shauna Tohill and REWS, as well as Lauren Tate in either guise of Hands Off Gretel or Delilah Bon. That would be a perfect match-up.

As impressive and varied as the city that Rénovations calls home. Let’s not bring the whole East Coast “salt and sauce?” question into the discussion though, for we all know that when it comes to a chippy, the only question that should be asked is “salt and vinegar?”. Heathens.

Connect with Rénovations here.

Review – Dave

Photo credit – Giulia Sansone

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