Maarten Devoldere is a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being co-lead vocalist and one-half of the core songwriting duo behind the critically applauded Belgian indie rock outfit and JOVM mainstays Balthazar. Devoldere is also the creative mastermind behind the equally applauded solo recording project Warhaus.
With Warhaus, Devoldere further cemented a reputation for crafting urbane, literate and decadent art rock with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility. It shouldn’t be surprising that Devoldere’s Warhaus debut, 2016’s We Fucked A Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawrence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Thematically, the album touched upon lust, desire, the inscrutability of random encounters, bittersweet and regret with the deeply confessional nature of someone baring the deepest recesses of their soul.
Devoldere’s sophomore Warhus album, 2017’s self-titled saw the acclaimed Belgian songwriter and artist thematically moving away from decadence, lust and sin towards earnest, hard-fought and harder-won love — with much of the material being informed by his relationship with vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Interestingly, the recording sessions were much more spontaneous and heavily influenced by Dr. John‘s Night Tripper period: The album features heavy nods to voodoo rhythms and New Orleans jazz despite the fact that his backing band wasn’t known for being jazz musicians.
The Belgian songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s third Warhaus album, Ha Ha Heartbreak is slated for a November 11, 2022 release through Play It Again Sam. Ha Ha Heartbreak‘s material was written during a three week stay in Palermo. All Devoldere needed was the solitude of a hotel room, a guitar, a microphone and a recently broken heart.
The sorrow was too difficult to handle, so he went to Sicily to escape. But as it always turns out, those who try to outrun life and heartache quickly run into themselves. But the album sees Devoldere wrapping his sorrow into hooks, instant singalong choruses and irresistible melodies. Sonically, the material is light yet lush featuring strings, sensual vocals, horns and even playful piano parts. The end result is an album that’s a deep and moving emotional exploration yet something musically very rich.
Album opening track and first single “Open Window” the first bit of new Warhaus material in five years was centered around Devoldere’s brooding baritone, strummed acoustic guitar, a Quiet Storm-like groove, twinkling piano and a gorgeous, cinematic string arrangement. It’s the sort of song that you can gently sway along to with eyes closed and drifting off into your own nostalgia-induced dreams — or delusions.
Perhaps unsurprising, the song thematically is rooted in a heartbroken delusion that should feel painfully familiar to most of us: the delusional hope against hope that the breakup isn’t permanent, that they’ve just temporarily lost their minds and will return soon. But in the end it’s all vapor and blind, foolish denial.
“Open Window is about keeping reality at bay in that comfortable bubble of denial. Definitely my favourite stage of heartbreak,” Delvodere explains.
Ha Ha Heartbreak‘s second and latest single “Desire” is a lush and sultry bop centered around mournful horns, soaring strings, an infectious, two-step inducing groove and twinkling keys paired with Devoldere’s breathy baritone. The song’s narrator desperately addresses just about every god he can imagine, but as he says in the song, “No matter what I turn to/it’s failing me.”
“Trying to love without attachment? Trying to stop the hedonic treadmill from spinning? Trying to reincarnate as Celine Dion’s voice? Follow me on Instagram for misinformation. This song’s dedicated to all those false idols out there. Love, Warhaus,” Devoldere says of the new single.
Directed by Pieter De Cnudde features Devoldere in a musty, old apartment as a bored man, fulfilling Sisyphean-like tasks on old analog devices, including an old train monitoring system and a phone operator bank, which at one point he’s connected to by umbilical cord. The visual continues a run of brooding and surreal visuals, rooted in heartache and despair.
Devoldere will be embarking on a handful of UK and European Union dates. Check them out below.
24th September – Reeperbahn Festival – Hamburg, Germany
15th November – De Helling – Utrecht, Netherlands
17th November – The Lexington – London, United Kingdom
18th November – Point Ephemere – Paris, France
27th November – Handelsbeurs – Gent, Belgium