Nine years after “Racine Carrée”, which has sold 4.7 million copies worldwide, the Belgian singer is releasing his third album “Multitude” on Friday March 4. With simple, frank words, not devoid of humor, he evokes the evils of the present time, his own, intimate, ours, common, and responds to them with a benevolent look and a resilient sense of rhythm.
It’s finally here, the most awaited album of the year! And again, we stick to twelve months so as not to cause too much pain to Orelsan, Angèle, -M- and all the other pretenders to the massive diamond triumph because, in truth, we have all been waiting for almost nine years the successor of Square root, and we no longer dare to hope for six. In 2013, Paul Van Haver therefore published his second album under the pseudonym of Stromae (for the record, verlan of “maestro”, to be pronounced according to the interested party “stromaï”), and it was so stuffed with hits as relentless as they were inexhaustible, that it seemed a compilation from elsewhere (Belgium, at the same time…): Papaoutai, Bastard, Ave Cesaria, All the same, Formidable, Carmen... The case had sold 4.7 million copies worldwide. The best-selling French-language album of the decade, of course, we were waiting for the sequel.
The sequel was at first shattering. And silent. After a tour of more than 200 dates around the world with a brilliant, spectacular but trying show, it was a burnout in 2016, aggravated by the side effects of an antimalarial treatment followed the previous year. While sitting on top of the world, Stromae disappears… only to reappear behind the scenes: musical productions, select collaborations (Orelsan, Bigflo & Oli, Coldplay…) and the launch of the collection of “Mosaert” clothes with his wife Coralie Barbier… The rest was thus expected, less and less, the time demanding everything immediately and the next…
Until last October, and the surge, surprise and unexpected, of the new song Health, a well-regarded ode to the humble, the fragile and everyday heroes against a backdrop of digital cumbia. A music video, a tour announcement, and another track followed. hell, just as successful, and even more moving, on the suicidal thoughts that the singer, who has a virtuoso understanding of the era of the global image, revealed during a TV news, by a media stunt as effective as discussed: enormously so. This Friday, March 4, it’s the album. At last ! Finally, we can talk about music again!
Another world is possible that brings us together
For once, we could start with this: the music, or rather the music, their “Multitude” (yes, that’s the title of the album). We have rarely, if ever, heard such a diversity of folklore (“Foklore” was almost the title) on a disc of French-speaking song: Polynesian choirs, Andean charango, Mandinka guitar, Chinese erhu, Bulgarian polyphonies , dubstep infrabass, Persian flute, accordions, classical strings, bagpipes, vibraphones, brass instruments, digital trap rhythms… If the form, as Victor Hugo said, it is the content that goes back to the surface, then Multitude already affirms something positively anti-globalization ambition : another world is possible which brings us together, and embraces us, and sets us all ablaze in joy.
The bottom, itself, seems to take the opposite of its surface of repair and consolation. As usual with this belgium correct artist (this is not the pipe). Not one of the twelve pieces that is not motivated by the need to put words to evils. We find the exceptional talent of Stromae, like Jacques Brel before him (obligated), for the incarnation full of empathy of characters. It testifies in the first person to the sadness of a person stuck in his consummation of ephemeral relationships (The loneliness), evokes the complicated daily life of prostitution from the point of view of a child (Sons of joy), evokes the impermanence of romantic feelings (Not really) or the infidelity of a smooth talker (My love). He even allows himself a choral story, very cinematographic, of the secret dreams of four ordinary people in the same title, one of the most beautiful on the disc (Laugh). He also knows how to capture the spirit of the times, but with an extra height when he affirms his feminism (Statement) or be downright funny in detailing the joys of fatherhood (This is happiness).
“Happiness is the only thing that, when shared, multiplies”
When it’s not in the tone or the angle with which he tackles these different themes, in a kind of empathic lucidity boosted in the consummate sense of the existential absurd, it is frontally that he speaks of depression, this “damn disease” which has long distanced him, including him. “I paid the price, I find it hard to write it, and hard to say it. Even weakened, to the last cry, fucking disease, as long as I am alive, I am undefeated”, admits he in the song that opens the album, like a proclamation of desire to turn (Unbeaten). We’re not going back hell, a wonder in itself and for others, since calls to the national suicide prevention number have exploded since it aired. Depression is still the main subject of Bad day (co-written by Orelsan) which highlights the deadly complacency in which the disease plunges us, but this magnificent desperate lament is immediately followed by Have a good day (same co-author), a tube, finally, totally joyful. “Happiness is the only thing which, when shared, multiplies”, sings Stromae whose disc, undoubtedly, will make the happiness of many, and grow and multiply, and make the happiness of even more!