“Our genre has always been a bit of a mystery,” shares Cadre Noir singer and guitarist Kayin. The local newcomers released their debut album Life’s Still Perfect on Friday, November 3rd, packing conscious lyrics and thick instrumentation into seven tracks all ready for the dancefloor. “We like to think our foundation is hip hop and we combine that feel with elements of jazz, rock, 70s soul and even bossa nova.” With pop hooks and rap verses, electronic and live drums, overdrive guitar, synthesizer swells and a wash of echo, the crew share the same haunting atmosphere as Yves Tumor, Steve Lacy and King Krule, with clever twists that remind me of OutKast and J Dilla, too.
Cadre Noir | photo by Ruben-Dario Gallego
Groove, mystery and betrayal on Cadre Noir’s debut ‘Life’s Still Perfect’
The album from this exciting new Philly band offers nonstop groove, packing conscious lyrics and thick instrumentation into seven tracks all ready for the dancefloor.
The project started in 2021 with Kayin and bassist Jaz working through demos and ideas they hoped could “encompass a feeling of nostalgia while still sounding new and fresh.” In 2022 they played their first shows, adding a few friends into the band, and they began piecing together an album by combining fresh recordings with Kayin’s older demos.
The final product offers nonstop groove, though sometimes woozy and slanting, like when the beat changes at the end of “Scientific” or “Lady Satan.” Lead guitar heroics, layered filters and dizzy effects can make productions like “2 Seater” feel overwhelming, but they keep their direction thanks to thoughtful, tense chord patterns underpinning them persistently. In his deadpan baritone, Kayin carries us lyrically through beauty, depression, fear and betrayal on Philly streets. Warnings to “beware the wealth-bearers actin’ like they care bout your health and your welfare” turn to “back against the wall, f*** the law for some funds.” In some inspiring moments, his raps bring confidence into the turbulence— “singing from the chapels, addressing the problematic / above no man, but way above average.” Jaz’s tight bass performance and her hypnotic “Warning” vocals (“bop bop boppin’ to the beat; don’t speak”) especially stood out in their impressive live sets I saw last month at Pentridge Station and Dahlak Paradise.
Cadre Noir celebrate their debut album Life’s Still Perfect with a release show this Friday November 10th at The Pottery Gym in Fishtown. Find their fisheye video for “Scientific,” directed by “CADRE NOIR DEPT. OF ILLUSIONS AND PROPAGANDA,” below.