Best known as the frontman and primary songwriter of Belgian rock band Balthazar, Maarten Devoldere has received attention both nationally and internationally for his solo side project, Warhaus which further cements his growing reputation for deftly crafting urbane an hyper-literate material with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility; in fact, his latest effort We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its name from a line in DH Lawrence’s classic, erotic novel Lady Chatterly’s Lover — and unsurprisingly, the material on the album thematically focused on lust, desire, love and the profound inscrutability of random encounters, while being intense, decadent, sophisticated. And if you had been following this site earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about album single “Machinery,” a moody, slow-burning and sensual song that evoked smoke-filled, late night cafes and intimate jazz clubs just off the beaten path, of nights that take a decadent, debaucherous turn and not being completely in control; but with an underlying yearning and aching loneliness, as the song’s narrator desperately wants more than what he has but can’t put it to words.
“Love’s A Stranger” Devoldere’s latest single continues on a similar vein as “Machinery” as it’s a brooding, slow-burning yet wistful rumination on love’s fleeting and impermanent nature, with the perspective of someone who’s loved and lost, loved and fucked up and has recognized more times than what he’d like to admit that love simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Love is indeed a stranger, that comes and goes as it pleases — and you may not know when it’ll return, but it returns as it always does. Sonically, Devoldere’s smoky baritone is paired with a jazz pop sort of arrangement that reminds me a bit of Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun as twinkling keys, strummed guitar, gently padded drums and a supple bass line are paired with Devoldere’s husky and expressive baritone.
Directed by filmmaker and screenwriter Wouter Bouvijn, the recently released video for “Love’s A Stranger” is comprised of footage Bouvijn shot while accompanying the band on a week-long tour of France. Initially meant to be B-roll and for background, the Devoldere and his backing band were surprised that Bouvijn’s treatment was cut from intimate on the road, backstage and live footage, but as the Belgian filmmaker explained to Devoldere, “Did you expect me to put you guys with unplugged guitars on a desert hill?” Ultimately, the result is capturing a band at its most unguarded, rarely seen moments and while revealing the personalities, passions and friendships of its members, it also points at the strange, debaucherous loneliness of the artist’s life.