Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul
(Bounty & Banana Records)
Is there a slight undermining of the notion that this album seems to represent? On ‘Hey’ it sounds like the lyrics are ‘integrity is money’, repeated through the outro. Perhaps acknowledging the vast box ticking exercises indulged in by companies large and small, to show that they and their employees are combatting sexism and racism and transgenderism with courses, representation on company literature and a statement on the website. ‘Integrity is money’ - no need to actually address the root causes as long as the perception of integrity is clear and markets remain un-alienated.
I was wrong - the lyrics, clearly stated on the handy lyric video are ‘integrity is my name’, which is a hell of a thing to call a kid. Or, alternatively the kind of hard to live up to statement made by politicians and religious leaders in so many words. It means, ‘trust me’. Do I trust Charlotte and Bolis? Depends. They are dependably making confident, bold, even, sounding, pop statements, that seem built to support the growing mass of western youngish people who challenge the ingrained inequality between male, female, people of colour and those who’s sexuality remains undefined within human structures of buying and selling. Yeh, alright, capitalism. But I’m also looking at you, socialism. There have been some pretty nasty dickheads who see economic equality ending where women start.
That’s good right? That’s what The Au Pairs did. And Gang of 4. Riot Grrrrrllllls. Billy Bragg. Allowing the poetry of the hope to displace the lack of mystery in the lyrics. Except that… the feeling of being shouted at (in soft caps? In a Comic Sans Font?) needs some kind of accompaniment, a vehicle. Angry music. New sounds. Unfortunately, there is a kind of smug self satisfaction to the music here, apart from the fuzz toms drive of It Hit Me we are largely listening to the kind of tidy, conservative heavily quantised programming that depends on the singing to make it interesting.
So how’s the singing? And talking? There’s a fair amount of talking, in that kind of humourous tone adopted by people talking simultaneously to their friends and also down to those who just don’t get it. The singing is conversational, too. Doesn’t want to break a sweat.
Listening to the album on Youtube, punctuated by adverts, seems appropriate. Here’s an ad featuring a blonde big-haired woman pretending to be an executive selling product that will make her more efficient followed by what seems to be an internal monologue (note to self) in Mantra, to ‘let go of this mental interpretation’ which urges the singer to, presumably, lose the strictures imposed externally and be their real self. Admirable, as a magazine article. As a pop song… well. It just feels, again, as if someone who doesn’t know me is telling me what I should do.
Of course, the lyrics aren’t aimed at me. They are aimed internally. It’s a meditation on self. A selfish meditation. Which, I suppose is interesting if you are a similar sort of person. you might find it empowering. I find it irritating. I feel like saying, ‘you know you’re talking out loud, right? We can hear you.’ It’s like earwigging a mobile phone conversation between the same person.
Still, there are pretty moments of French singing (Making Sense Stop) and nothing too painfully awkward. As the Daft-y Punk-y ‘Thank You ushers me out of the album’s room I feel like I’ve spent an hour or so in the company of people who, if they didn’t exactly welcome me to their bar, are equally waiting for me to leave so they can really relax and have some of the fun that’s bubbling behind the walls constructed for their own mental safety.
(After discovering the live footage from Amsterdam included here, it’s obvious the possibilities of what Charlotte and Bolis are pursuing are not represented well by the studio recordings. Here’s the humanity, the genuine joy, the aggression and the body moving arrangements that are missing. If only they could capture this wild moment and do away with the clinical deadness. So, I’m awarding points based on the possibilities and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend seeing them live.)