Album review: Mélanie Pain – Parachute
PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 March 2017
French artist works piano and electronica into intriguing sculptures for third LP
Leaving her folk-pop origins, Pain enlists the talented fingers of pianist Gael Rakotondrabe (Anthony And The Johnsons) for her third album, an adventure at the crossroads of real instruments and electronica.
Give opener Comme Une Balle a spin and the French lyrics, skittering synths and airy, sparing pop over warm bass immediately bring to mind breakthrough chart sensation Christine & The Queens.
But the comparison doesn’t stick around as the song’s arched, spidery instrumentation and pared-back melody point to a less poppy aesthetic.
What emerges is a precise, poised and carefully sculpted sound, with prominent piano and considered use of synths and programming.
Unless you happen to speak French, Pain’s softly-sung lyrics become another texture in the mix, daring you to guess at their meaning while, for example, feeding the sonic allure of the spectral, sparing Là Ou L’été.
The widescreen, echoing and misty swoon of On Dirait’s chorus features bubbling piano contrasting with playful, loping verses offering hope (“even tears evaporate”).
And there’s plenty of interest in tracks like Le Mot, where harpsichord and eerie theremin dance around a rigid-backed piano melody, or the brushed drums and funereal pace of closer D’un Bout À L’autre (From One End To The Other).
English creeps in just once, Pristine’s chorus asking whether you’re “…ready to burn until the very end?/Are you ready to glow under a pristine sky?” over a babbling brook of electronic keys, skittering hi-hat and programmed beats.
The prominence of piano throughout keeps it from feeling brittle, but it doesn’t always work; Dans Une Boite (In A Box) is too aloof and isolated for its own good.
And that’s the rub; it intrigues over a few listens – and fans of Polly Scattergood and the aforementioned Queens should definitely check Pain out. But Parachute might set too much store in textural adventures for mainstream success to be a reality.