Styles: lounge-pop, orchestral-pop, psychedelic-pop
Others: Air, Badly Drawn Boy, Scott Walker
Sofia Coppola released one of my new favorite movies of last year, Lost in Translation. On the movie’s impeccable soundtrack, I became familiar with a twenty-something Parisian known as Sebastien Tellier. The song "Fantino" was one of the better tracks from the collection and subsequently started my quest to find out more about this man’s work. My search found that he had only one album and that people who had heard of him either hated or loved his music; the discussion was devoid of middle ground. I also learned that he was close friends with the band Air, and immediately I understood why he ended up on Coppola's soundtrack. Anyone familiar with her film Virgin Suicides knows that Air did the entire soundtrack. Upon finding and listening to L’Incroyable Vérité, Tellier’s debut album on Air’s Record Makers label, I came to the realization that this song was easily head and shoulders above the rest. So where would my opinion stand? Well, contrary to the mass public, I found myself somewhere in the middle.
I suppose I can say the same for Tellier’s new project, Politics. There are moments of pop perfection and there are moments of silliness that I just can’t seem to buy in to. Songs like "La Ritournelle" show that Tellier has the ability to make some incredibly great pop music. Unfortunately, diamonds-in-the-rough like this doesn’t exemplify a fully cohesive album. "La Ritournelle," in fact, has replaced "Fantino" as his most promising moment in the spotlight; and, like its predecessor, easily stands above the rest of the songs on the album. Immediately after this level of excellence has been achieved, however, it is quickly brought back to the same silliness that weighed down his previous album. "Lenny," as with several other tracks, sounds as if it should be in a Broadway mockery of Phantom of the Opera. "Slow Lynch" is a short interlude that, again, hints at how great this album could have been had it been more tonally serious. One last track that I must mention is "Mauer." This is a song that is somewhat similar to the way Air creates subtle French-pop with perfection; French vocals included.
Regardless of what has been said here, Sebastien Tellier’s talents haven’t been dismissed. I find myself truly loving a small handful of these songs. Their originality and visual-creating abilities are their best traits. In fact, I’d say over half of this album is fantastic, while the remainder are dependent on individual taste. Although Tellier’s music is denser than Air’s albums, Politics would be much more memorable if it weren’t for these few detours that take away from the rest of the album. In the end, those who are familiar with the music of the French-duo Air will most likely find themselves quite fond of Tellier and his cinematic touches to the French-pop genre.
1. Bye Bye
2. League Chicanos
5. La Ritournelle
7. Slow Lynch
9. La Tuerie
10. Ketchup vs. Genocide