Silencio... Clenched fist in a velvet glove
Review: Laetitia Sadier – Silencio
Published on July 18th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
The Stereolab front lady’s second solo album plays to her strengths with a certain amount of rigidity, and why not? They are such glorious strengths after all.
Opener “The Rule of the Game” breathes jangly, sleek ‘n’ sophisticated guitar chords, with that familiar smooth voice intoning “The ruling class neglects again responsibility / Over-indulged children drawn to cruel games / Pointless pleasures, impulsive reflexes” over an ominous-sounding soft percussive shuffle, which breaks into an up-tempo piano trot with shuddering synth for its last minute. “Blinkered class paving the way to fascism” – already the lyrical themes are well established, and it sure is a welcome break from the ‘I see you in the club lookin’ fine, girl’ variations upon so predominant in our age.
“Silent Spot” wields a shimmering, magical, fire-bellied beauty that feels as if it could be the top layer peeled off from the Stereolab juggernaut, before “Auscultation to the Nation” manages to keep relatively jaunty through its largely minor key setting as Sadier seethes “What do we care about the self-proclaimed authorities? / Rating agencies / Financial markets / And the G20 / Were not elected by the people / In the name of what are we letting them govern our lives? / They are politically illegitimate” and “Enough already with the dictatorship / Tyranny of money / We want a real democracy”. It’s hardly wrapped up in riddles, but why should it be?
“There is a Price to Pay for Freedom (and it isn’t Security)” is like Fin de Siècle-era Divine Comedy in its cinematic foreboding, even a touch Flaming Lips-ian, “Moi Sans Zach” a nicely laid-back French language number which speaks of searching for truth if Rocksucker’s French is up to scratch (“Nous cherchons la vérité” ?), while the synthy splendour of “Between Earth and Heaven” gives way to a slick Tropicalia groove that clears the decks for “Lightning Thunderbolt” to sound a bit like Pulp at their doomiest, those unconventional, gorgeously jangling guitar chords at once so luxurious and so foreboding.
“Fragment pour le future de l’homme” is the most Stereolab-like thing here, dripping as it is with funky sophistication, “Merci De M’avoir Donné La Vie” (thank you for giving me life?), features waves of delicious ravey synth pad, “Next Time You See Me” is like a more subdued early Stereolab number with lovely, breezy ba ba bas, and then “Invitation au silence” brings the curtain down with whispered, English-language spoken word in English overlapped with the French in her normal speaking voice.
Overall the sound of Silencio is not likely to shock anyone who heard Sadier’s first solo venture The Trip, or indeed her work as Monade, but it sounds so gorgeous and so gently poignant that it’s good to see her still doing her thing to such great effect.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!