Stromae – ‘Crowd’ (Universal)
By David Moran.
The cheesiest of the place, always alert and always ready to test the limits of the ridiculous, will speak of ‘confessional dance’ or, God forbid, of dancing with tears in their eyes. Of exorcising demons with the blow of a hip and shaking off sorrows and tragedies by uniting strings and synthesizers. The reality, however, less lyrical and much more prosaic, tells us about depression and mental problems; of malaria and coronavirus; of exhaustion and fatherhood; of enormous success and sudden braking to try to process it. Of thoughts that as he sings on ‘L’ill’, They make us live in hell. Paul Van Haver was there and that’s where the Stromae from ‘Multitude’, an album in which character and person, pop star and new father, merge like newly tempered steel.
“Sometimes I had suicidal thoughts / And I’m not proud of that,” he acknowledges in the same song that, to widespread astonishment, he performed live at the beginning of the year on the French TF1 news while being interviewed.
The Belgian has taken nine years to recover the Frenchified pop superhero costume and, needless to say, every minute of waiting has been worth it. In all this time, the author of ‘Papaoutai’ has surfed misery, got married and had a son and has embarked on a musical exploration that, from one end of the globe to the other, now crystallizes in the overwhelming succession of ‘Racine Carrée’. Electronic textures, brushstrokes of chanson and a wide range of world music including Bolivian charangos, Asian strings and rhythmic plots close to Afropop make up an album that concentrates the new global pop map in 35 minutes of vibrant pulse and skin-deep confessions. An album that swings between the optimistic pop heaven of ‘Bonne journée’ and that hell which, as in ‘Fils de joie’, is always the others; between the dirty diapers and vomiting of the almost comical ‘C’est que du bonheur’ and the still open wound of ‘Mauvaise journée’. An album in which, let’s be cheesy, their sorrows continue to be our joys.
Wolfgang Flür – ‘Magazine 1’ (Cherry Red)
By Jesus Lillo.
Dead Florian Schneider and stuck Ralf Hutter to curator of the universal, itinerant and remixed exhibition of the catalog of kraftwerk, two of its dissidents remain as creative and relocated assets of the German band, today a museum and festival piece, boasting telematic and non-face-to-face communication. One is karl bartos and the other, Wolfgang Flur. The second sets aside his frivolities -some as pleasant as ‘Beat Perfecto’- and writes in ‘Magazine 1’ an essay on the double reading that Kraftwerk’s work generated since the early eighties on both sides of the Atlantic: what in the United States it was ‘electro’, an ingredient of the first ‘hip-hop’ and the basis of the mechanical rigor of the Detroit and Chicago schools, in Europe it was ‘techno-pop’, much more bearable and assimilable outside the club walls. In ‘Magazine 1’, Flür tries to reconcile the two branches that stem from the Kraftwerk trunk. That is all. Almost nothing.
The German composer brings his naïf, almost childlike, pottery to the level of an amusement park -we return to his ‘Beat Perfecto’- and his collaborators provide the seriousness that the experiment deserves. In ‘Magazine 1’ collaborations and guest stars abound, but they are the contributions of John Atkins, Carl Cox Y U96 the ones that work best in this marriage, marriage of interest, of the two extremes toward which Kraftwek’s production flowed. Everything is recycled and counter-made. Wolfgang Flür responds to the integrity of Ralf Hütter, early retired in his studio, reformer of the scale model of his own work, with an album of reunions, nostalgia and mutual recognition, from here to Detroit.
La Plata – ‘Direct Action’ (Boy Sound)
By Maria Alcaraz.
After the release of his first LP, ‘Desorden’ (2018, Muchacho Sound), silver he returns with ‘Acción Directa’, again with the same publisher. And if on that pre-pandemic album the sound mist that characterizes this Valencian group was very present, on ‘Acción Directa’ it escapes around the edges.
It’s easy to take ‘Desorden’ as a reference to analyze ‘Acción Directa’, but it’s probably also the most visual way to explain the group’s evolution. This development takes two aspects: the sound and the theme. Regarding the former, La Plata transcends the sound that consolidated them as the present and not a promise and tries something new: more synths, more electric sounds and new, more groundbreaking melodies. Regarding the second, if in ‘Desorden’ the proposed existentialism was devastating, and the approaches of the album were quite downbeat –as things are, normal, come on–, in ‘Acción Directa’ there is always belief and change; desire to advance. They talk about it in ‘Aire Nuevo’ (“An air of calm / A new air / Advance with strength / Advance sincere”), in ‘Infinite Movement’ (“Strength for tomorrow / Now is my strength”) or in ‘ Keep walking Pt. 2’ (“Let it come / Watch it grow / And feel it yours”). They talk about improvement from the awareness that things don’t usually go well and take collective strength as their starting point; It is an LP full of hope. And then there is ‘Volver para verte’, in which they allow themselves to go back a bit to the codes of their ‘Desorden’ and talk about heartbreak (“How I would like to remember that / How I would like to dance like then”) with the sound with which They did in 2018. A delight.
The Valencian formation, to which many qualifications are attributed, post punk and new wave, although they describe themselves as a pop a little out of line with it, in reality it’s just them. Because there are few who sound like this; is one of those groups that you recognize instantly. A beam of light in the middle of a mist. That is La Plata.
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Reviews of the albums of the week: Stromae, Wolfgang Flür and La Plata
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