Poison Point
Wandering Echoes
Avant! Records

2022’s Poisoned Gloves was a reintroduction for French act Poison Point: the change from a duo to the solo act of Timothée Gainet was matched with a change in sound, as the minimal wave and post-punk influences of the preceding releases were integrated more fully into the project’s lush, sometimes manic, sometimes depressive darkwave. In contrast to how that record was informed by a new stylistic focus, 2024’s Wandering Echoes stretches out again, finding new sounds and ideas to inform its songs.

Notably, Gainet has grown as both a performer and songwriter, and put in the work establishing the identity of Poison Point as a quantity amongst many continental genre acts. That means when he does spread his wings, either vocally or in terms of what kinds of songs he writes, the changes feel confident and comfortable. The unmistakable body music that comes through in the stuttered samples and the syncopated bass and cymbal programming of “Flowers & Surrender” don’t overpower the track’s shadowy whole, still fitting neatly beside its more traditional dark disco neighbours. Similarly, the personality of the project can fully change how we hear some of these familiar sounds; the little bit of balaeric piano that weaves its way through the echoing corridors of the funky “Slow Kill, Fast Love” is transported from the beach to the death disco, recast from joyous to plaintive.

The record’s unity is partly a function of production and mood meshing well, but is also thanks to how Gainet has made himself a vocal touchstone in his songs. Sounding wounded and desperate are certainly not uncommon in trad European darkwave, but there’s a specific, reedy defiance in how he delivers his lyrics on “Blue Idol”, as if reaching out only to shrink away behind its echoing toms for protection. It’s a pose that can communicate both reluctance and longing (the crooned and chopped up syllables of “Mysteries in Fire” the mournful ballad “Les Meurtrières De L’Aube”), as Gainet fights to stay above the waves of reverb and delay, sometimes to be swept away entirely by a track’s end.

Identity is the key to the success of any given act working in modern darkwave, as more and more acts have emerged on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years. Timothée Gainet has figured out how to sound distinct and cohesive when working as Poison Point, a familiarity that hasn’t limited the scope of what he can do with the project on Wandering Echoes. It’s a fine follow-up to his solo arrival, and one that continues to deliver on its promise in alternately expected and surprising ways.

Buy it.