MELANIE - Cri D'Amour LP

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True concept albums are actually few and far between.

While it can be said that The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Lou Reed and John Cale’s Songs For Drella were designed from the ground up, that’s not necessarily the case for equally mythical, yet composite, albums such as Bowie’s The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and Diamond Dogs, or Lou Reed’s Berlin. In France, the genre established its pedigree in the 1970s with Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson and L’homme à tête de chou, then in the early 1980s with Léo Ferré’s L’Opéra du pauvre.

Mélanie Chédeville’s Cri d'amour adds to this list of albums that tell a story through characters. Cri d'amour was produced in a seaside setting, which may explain its flowing, organic character – and the fact that it deviates from electronic music in spite of its title’s homophony with Guy-Manuel De Homem Christo (of Daft Punk fame) and Éric Chédeville’s foundational French Touch label Crydamoure. This fact might not be so fortuitous since the name was, among other things, about the deep friendship between the two boys – and its brutal end, which was not without repercussions.

Repercussions on the couple, then on Mélanie’s decision to make it on her own artistically. Because it is all by herself that the violinist-by-training composed, wrote and arranged this collection of string-drenched songs that recall Jean-Claude Vannier’s work for Serge Gainsbourg. The latter would undoubtedly have been impressed by Mélanie’s fine-cut lyrics and melodies that are as raw as they are sophisticated, vocalized in a sprechgesang recalling his own. The deliberately retro palette, up to the bass sound so typical of 1960s English rock, betrays an artist indebted to the creator of Bonnie & Clyde and Initials B.B. through a sensual, clear tonality. Yet, polyrhythms borrowed from the late afro-beat legend Tony Allen, and the touches of guitar, piano, percussion and synthesizers distilled here and there by Éric and Mélanie, end up giving the whole affair a resolutely a temporal color.