I have followed Madeon’s music since I saw him open for Lady Gaga years ago. As soon as I heard his music, I fell in love. His bass drops made my heart race, his transitions were fantastic and each song of his felt like a frantic video game’s mad dash to the end. His early music all felt like beautiful game background music and I rode every single high and low for years. His music powered me through college and through some of the darkest days in my home waiting for my life to start. Madeon is a talented DJ, always has been since he was too young to drink in the clubs he kept playing.
I was thrilled when Madeon decided that he was going to do a full debut album. When Adventure came out, nearly all of the tracks felt like something new from the DJ I came to love. It all felt very pop, which was fine. I loved the featured artists that joined Madeon’s beats during Adventure and found myself nearly in love with every song on the album from the oppressive hype that was Imperium to the slow ballad that was La Lune.
Adventure was exactly the album I needed when it hit me at all of 24 and moody and filled with ennui. I had just ended a long-term relationship, I was on my own and nothing felt like it used to. But Adventure wasn’t popular with everyone as it was probably one of the most pop ventures Madeon had ever done. If you came into Hugo’s work with him sampling Alphabeats or even The Killers then Adventure seems rather on point but if you came into Hugo’s work with Ellie Goulding or deadmau5 then yeah, Adventure is pop trash and you’re a dummy for liking it, I assume is what they think. In hindsight, I’m hot and cold on it. La Lune and Only Way Out still mean a great deal to me and Ok and Beings can still get me dancing and listening with a few years behind it, Imperium seems like the kind of song that Raihan from Pokemon: Sword/Shield works out to.
But we are spending a lot of time talking about an album that is a few years old and that’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here to talk about Good Faith. When Madeon released a single in 2018, I was happy. I had missed Hugo’s music. That single was All My Friends and in video theme and tone, this didn’t feel like a Madeon song. I was confused and frankly concerned that perhaps Porter Robinson was punking all of us. The video featured a ton of hand geometry and an interesting enough beat to it that I was curious but not sold. It was fine but it wasn’t Hugo.
All I had to do was wait.
Dream Dream Dream was where I was sold before the album was even an album. The mood, the lyrics…all of it just spoke to me. I have also felt the weight of my dreams and indeed it does move me forward. I was still a little weirded out with the hand geometry in the videos but there was something about this song that reminded me of something that I had felt in the back of my mind and had noticed in the two songs that started up this album was suddenly clear.
My thoughts about Good Faith being Madeon’s attempt to take us to church were confirmed when the album got its name and when I heard No Fear No More. It wasn’t just the piano pieces of the literal damn choir or the literal damn children’s choir but it was more the themes. The idea of being fearless, of being joyful, of having that internal strength that tells you everything will be fine (yes, I made a pun about my other favorite song on the album) are all themes in Southern gospel. Black people have been telling themselves to have fear no more since slavery was a thing and encouraging their children and loved ones that through faith and perseverance that everything will be okay.
Miracle more aggressively takes us to church with more pianos, more choirs and even more overt allusions that supernatural things will happen and while it’s a good song, I’ll trade it for Be Fine almost any day; mostly because the front half of Miracle features what I can only describe as Hugo’s pillow talk before it turns into a great song in the second half.
I want to close with the song that shocked me and the one that made me really feel a deep connection with the album: Heavy with Hoping. Without getting too personal, 2018 ended with me cutting several ties with people that meant the world to me but I had to remove from my life for personal reasons. I was going through a breakup so lines like:
If I let you go
We end in tragedy
How would you know
How to get back to me?
I felt it in my bones. And the heavy vocals, minimal beats until the end (which is actually where the song loses me) that fades into heavy distortion as grief and pain often does distort voices and feelings just really spoke to me. But it was bluesy in a way that some gospel songs are as a way to remind Southern black of the pain and hardship we have endured and to show us that indeed, that pain is not invalidated by time.
In Good Faith, Hugo takes us to church. He shows his wide influences and while honestly, I didn’t like all of the songs on the album, the ones I adored are ones that will remain close to my heart for the remainder of my days. A few articles claimed Good Faith was Hugo’s most pop-influenced album but to me that sells the damn thing short and erases that his influences are much wider than just pop or video game loading screen music. I maintain that Madeon is one of the most talented DJs alive and I’m proud to be a devotee of his work and indeed the album had me clapping along and raising my hands to the Lord above chanting “No fear no more.”