"Fragment Pour Le Future de L'homme" by Laetitia Sadier
Laetitia Sadier’s mission is to provoke on “Silencio,” and the contradictions she employs can be disorienting. ... Well, at least for those unfamiliar with Sadier. For the rest of us, “Silencio” is par for the course.
Best known as the enigmatic, French-born lead singer of Stereolab, Sadier hasn’t changed her unusual performance persona with her second solo release, which she uses to encourage her audience to be both introspective and world-aware. Her voice is often calm to the point of deadpan, a peculiar fit for her sometimes punk-like lyrics offered with offbeat enunciation and unconventional phrasing. Her words may call for screeching guitars and heavy feedback, but her tone would be better suited against a backdrop of ocean waves and wind chimes.
Sadier splits the difference, sort of, and opts for a lounge-esque context that combines cool Europop remoteness with steamy, tropical inflections — a more elegant presentation than Stereolab’s electro-quirk, but still not that much of a stretch.
And as she languidly strolls through the narcotic arrangements, she oscillates between French and sometimes-hard-to-understand English, mixing politics with romance and New Age notions.
Although drowsy ambivalence might set in with the zombie-like sprawl of “Merci de Mavoir Donne la Vie,” the preciously sparse “Silent Spot” and the tedious irony of “Lightning Thunderbolt,” most of “Silencio” is beguiling, whether it’s in the soothing jangle of “Next Time You See Me,” the rockish energy of “Fragment Pour le Future de L’homme” or the artful bossa nova of “Moi Sans Zach.”
The singer herself is magnetic in her quietude, though her perspective is often camouflaged in atmosphere. On the flowing “Auscultation to the Nation,” for example, she attacks the “politically illegitimate” — unelected big business proponents and the like who subject the masses to the “tyranny of money” — as she asks, “Who are these people, and why on Earth do we care about their opinion?”
And on the spoken-word closer “Invitation Au Silence,” delivered in French and translated in English whispers, Sadier challenges listeners to discover how, “resonant with truth silence is.”
It’s easy to get lost in this one.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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