By Jemiah Jefferson
The chanteuse of compassionate socialism hasn’t changed much since the earliest days of legendary agit-pop group Stereolab, and this is a very good thing; Laetitia Sadier‘s cool, clear-eyed voice, alternately crisp and authoritative and velvety-dreamy, is one of the greatest resources in music. As a songwriter, too, she only develops further complexities while keeping the core characteristics intact. Sadier has always created intensely listenable tunes to transmit messages of the political and the personal, and Silencio is no exception.
An album of diverse sounds but tonal cohesion, Silencio is always groovy, never preachy, even when Sadier points out the hypocrisy of the so-called ruling class and the confused apathy of the ordinary citizens who have to create meaningful lives within systems they never created for themselves. Questioning political structures has long been a vivid aspect of Sadier’s songwriting palette, delivered with amused humor and occasional anger. In “Auscultation to the Nation,” inspired by a talk-radio rant from an enraged French listener, she lines them up against the wall: “Financial markets and the G20—who are these people?”
But it’s not all protest songs and sociopolitical frustration; jazzy-dreamy tracks like “Moi Sans Zach” and the delicately introspective “Invitation au Silence” illuminate an inner landscape of personal emotion. Half the songs are in English, half in French, and “Invitation au Silence” features both, with the same lyric done both ways. Whatever the approach, her voice is impeccable.
With assists from former Stereolab bandmate Tim Gane and James Elkington, bandleader of the Zincs and Horse’s Ha, this is a record that will please fans of Stereolab’s later, jazzier efforts and gain new fans from the thinkier side of French pop music. Even for those who don’t speak the language, the music itself will beautifully guide the listener.
Silencio is out today on Drag City Records. You can order the album directly from their website.
Fri. 07/27/12: London, UK @ Rough Trade East (In-store)
Sat. 09/15/12: Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s
Sun. 09/16/12: Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room at Crofoot
Tue. 09/18/12: Toronto, ON @ Drake Hotel
Wed. 09/19/12: Montreal, QC @ Pop Montreal Festival
Thu. 09/20/12: Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Cafe
Fri. 09/21/12: New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
Sat. 09/22/12: Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
Sun. 09/23/12: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Tue. 09/25/12: Washington, DC @ DC9
Wed. 09/26/12: Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird Cafe
Thu. 09/27/12: Cincinnati, OH @ Midpoint Music Festival
Fri. 09/28/12: Urbana, IL @ Pygmalion Music Festival
Sat. 09/29/12: Madison, WI @ University of Wisconsin
Sun. 09/30/12: Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar
Wed. 10/03/12: Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Thu. 10/04/12: Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
Fri. 10/05/12: San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Sat. 10/06/12: Los Angeles, CA @ Culture Collide Festival
Wed. 10/10/12: Denver, CO @ Hi@Dive
Thu. 10/11/12: Lincoln, NE @ Lincoln Calling Music Festival