Throughout the last couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Belgian-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, Delvodere is best known for being the frontman of two internationally recognized, critically applauded, JOVM mainstay acts Balthazar and Warhaus.
While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in Kyrgyzstan, his longtime friend, songwriting partner and Balthazar bandmate Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, focusing on his old school R&B inspired solo project J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo enjoyed the ability to indulge their individual whims and creative muses, crafting commercially successful and critically applauded work — and Deprez and Devoldere found it liberating. The duo found that the time apart with their own creative endeavors created an undeniable urge to work together again, propelled by a much broader artistic horizon and an even greater mutual respect for each other’s individual work.
When the members of Balthazar reconvened to work on last year’s Fever, they did so without any particular plan beyond just desiring to improve upon their previously released work and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, as Deprez and Devoldere started to write Fever‘s material, they mutually agreed that the album would have a less serious, less melancholy — and while arguably finding the band at their loosest and most playful, the album retained the deliberate craftsmanship and razor sharp hooks that have won them national and international attention.
Last year also saw the band on a relentless touring schedule to support Fever that included a stop at Baby’s All Right in May. Feeling invigorated from the material and touring, the act wrote a batch of new material that began with the sultry-old school R&B-like “Halfway,” which found the band continuing the sound and aesthetic of Fever but while pushing it in an accessible, pop-leaning direction.
Interestingly, Sand, the JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming album reportedly finds the band fully embracing soulful alt pop — and crafting what may arguably be their most cohesive album of the careers. “There’s a theme running through these tracks, waiting, restlessness, not being able to live in the moment or putting your trust into the future,” Deprez and Devoldere explain. “We’re at a point in our lives when we have to consider these aspects of life, that’s why the album is called Sand – after the sand in an hourglass.”
“The idea was always to drop another album as soon as possible after Fever. It was fun and we wanted to build on that,” Jinte Deprez says in press notes. “We did a lot of things that we haven’t done previously – we’ve never used as many drum samples or used bass synths before. So that was an exciting step for us. It was a very modern way of making an album, due to the constraints of the pandemic and we had to work remotely and converse electronically rather than in a studio.” “I can’t wait to play this album live because on the Fever tour we pushed the groove element further,” Maarten Devoldere adds.
Sand‘s latest single is the slinky, late night jam “Losers.” Centered around Devoldere’s sultry baritone, falsetto backing vocals, funk polyrhythm, shimmering synth arpeggios and an infectious hook, “Losers” may arguably be the slinkiest and most disco-influenced songs of their growing catalog, but while retaining a cool, seemingly European sophistication. But at its core the song captures the anxious uncertain of this particular moment: most of us feel like our professional and personal lives are in indefinite stasis without any idea of what’s next — hell, if there’s anything beyond this.
Directed by Pieter De Cnudde, the recently released video for “Losers” was filmed in the band’s native Belgium and follows the band in various guises on a French Connection-like crime story that depicts most of the song’s narrative in a literal fashion.
Sand is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Play It Again Sam.