“Paradigms”, “Happier Than Ever”, “El Madrileño”… A review of ten albums to recount the musical year as we experienced it in “Libé” on the continent of popular music.
One disc, at least, from 2021, sums up the year fairly accurately to our ears for us to consider sending it as a missive to future generations: hey what by Low, an album of gospel splendor and digital saturation at the limits of physiological tenability, which we will have inflicted on ourselves on a loop since its release in the summer breakaway. Because its terrible duality has become obvious in the borderline world, in perpetual crisis, incessantly on the verge of the catastrophe unfolding far too slowly for us to recognize it for what it is. Pop music, now, is both punitive and comforting, simultaneously whispering words of love with unprecedented sensuality one moment, pounding the most confusing and guilt-inducing questions the next. In this respect, it has never been so useful, for its ability to say what is wrong: here we have entered fully into the era ofpop torture.
“Happier Than Ever”, Deep Throat
Was there a finer glottal festival in 2021 than Happy Than Ever, pop masterpiece which gives pride of place to the gasps, inspirations, swallowing noises and other salivary parasites of the young singer, so much so that we could well see ourselves electing domicile ad vitam aeternam in the moist heat of one of his tonsils? No.
”Happier Than Ever”, Billie Eilish (Interscope Records).
“El Madrileño”, Latin tornado
Paradox or not, it was a Catalan producer (Alizzz) who produced El Madrileno. Rapper C. Tangana’s album was the tornado of the year 2021 in Spain (one year after the coronation of his ex-girlfriend Rosalía); patching together contemporary sounds (auto-tune or bachata) with Spanish and Latin American folklore. Estupendo.
El Madrileño, C. Tangana (Sony).
“Promises”, cross generations
A cloud of notes, two generations, a concentration of bursts like music only knows once a decade: the meeting between the young white-beak Sam Shepherd and Pharoah Sanders, sacred ghost alongside Ayler and Coltrane , was much more than the expected discographic anecdote, an extraordinarily moving and peaceful tour de force.
You wouldn’t have imagined La Femme surviving a second album for a second – their improvisational heist of French pop involved hitting hard, fair, fast and well, then disappearing without looking back. Cleverly engineered, the case led us to Paradigms unexpected, return to the scene of the initial crime to erase everything, electrify, char.
Paradigms, The Woman (Sharp Disc / Born Bad).
“Everything Tasteful”, tasty
A torrid first album applauded with both buttocks from France Culture to the followers of tight-fitting in minishorts, a musical at the Bourse de commerce, meticulously chosen featurings with Squidji, Nemir, Vladimir Cauchemar, a first signature on his label Recless … Rapper Lala &ce has put the year 2021 in her water bottle and is sipping the sweet nectar of success with the prettiest girls in her lap.
Everything Tasteful, Lala & this (&this Recless).
“Hey What”, beautiful chaos
Thanks to the confinement, the Mormon duo-couple from Duluth, Minnesota, resized their tools and orchestrated around their voices an impressive noise symphony, staged (and in parts) with producer BJ Burton. Behind this apparent chaos, beauty arises with incredible force and carries Low ever higher in our hearts.
Hey what, Low (Sub-Pop).
“Memento Mori”, road overruns
After seven years in the garage, the trio led by the dashing Jean Felzine has put the rubber back on the Clermont-Paris motorway, with a fourth album at breakneck speed, fine and racy despite the hangover and this eternal lose that has never never looked so flamboyant. France always snubs them, it does not know what it is losing.
Memento Mori, Mustang (World Prestige/Sony).
“Space 1.8”, contemplative
Total discovery and divine surprise, the first album of this Belgian harpist, emerging from the bubbling English neo jazz underground, reinvents in a way the musical art of contemplation. Neither jazz nor ambient, a little of both at the same time, Space 1.8 draws a new horizon for instrumental music, which seeks and finds exactly at the same time
Space 1.8, Nala Sinephro (Warp).
“Honest Labour”, harsh reality
The confusion sometimes, often, gives great records. Thus this electronic duo from Mancun, keen on architecture, has woven for Honest Labor a poignant autofiction in the social and political tornado of the moment, a tribute to those who suffer and those who have suffered, by suffering and working.
Honest Labour, Space Afrika (Dais).
“Colourgrade”, balm to the heart
Tirzah and her crooked groove cures all ills, doctors hate her. Her shyness over the shoulder and her childhood friend, the brilliant composer Mica Levi, in production, the British singer delivered withColourgrade a second album like a poultice to apply where it hurts. As effective as a magic kiss.
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