01 November 2010

Karaocake - rows & stitches (2010, Clapping Music)

If she was American, Camille Chambon would be , probably, from the West Coast, somewhere between Seattle, Portland and Olympia, sharing shows with artists on K Records and similar labels.

She is French and after a few self-released records , which, I sadly missed and never heard of, she is making the jump with a "real" album on a "real" label with "real" musicians, "real" melodic & accessible songs, a "real" production and it's a remarkable artistic product which escapes the d.i.y. attitude typical to the style which often offers only generic stuff.  "Row & Stitches" is as a whole an unexpected surprise.

It's an addictive collection of melodic indie songs built around the songwriting of Camille Chambon. If before, Karaocake was her solo project, here it's a trio with Stéphane Laporte (Domotic) and Tom Gagnaire (Charlotte Sampling), both helping her to achieve and develop her indie pop potential.
I admit, this album is sometimes (almost) too poppy (at times) for my own good. I admit I enjoy listening to "Row & Stitches" in a row while busy at different physical tasks.  I admit it makes me nostalgic of a certain indie pop from the early nineties, like The Magnetic Fields, The Breeders, Famous Boyfriend, East River Pipe or even Katerine's two first albums. But hopefully,  it's more than that because there is a lyrical context and content to the songs, a deep melancholy  and sincerity below , and a real talent to transmit emotions and feelings, to share happiness.
Karaocake is an enigma, and unexpected discovery, maybe the most exciting songwriting from this style of music since Kickball. Though the final developments and directions chosen  by the two bands are different, they share the same strength, fervor, density and unicity of personality behind, and both are trio.    

It takes only the first minute of the first song for your heart to be stolen definitely. "My body is useless, but my brain works, and my heart aches, most of the time" sings Camille on "Bodies & Minds" and it's too late, you're fan and when the melodic beat starts you hum and your head oscillates : you are addicted and a bunch of hours will be reserved for the exploration of this album.

But don't get me wrong, Karaocake is not offering predigested indiepop, as you need to assimilate the songs, the old way, listening to these several times before being fully ready. "Rows & Stitches" is an old school type of album, solid and substantial, and there lays probably their weak point too. Camille probably exchanged part of her intimacy for efficiency, part of her fragility for immediate almost music box (casio) melodies which sometimes seems inherited from the 80's, the 70's or even the 60's ("It doesn't take the whole week", "Brooklyn Bridge", "Eeeeerie"), or minimalism for vocal harmonies and artifacts ("Never Sure").
I totally enjoy, much more, the Softies/Kickball quality of "Change of Plans",  the vintage melodic "Magnetic Fields" charm of "Medication", the dark subliminal dynamic tension à la Travels on a song like "Homeland Inwards"- , which reminds me of driving through a city at night under the rain, returning home after one or another show - , the nursery rhyme lemony flavor of "Hide & Seek, the sense of emotional urgency of "A Kingdom" from which a quasi-hymn finally emerges, the delicate poignancy of "White Tree".

"Rows & Stiches" is a successful album from an artist not afraid of looking forward and trying to open her musical world, I just hope her previous works will be reedited.

No comments:

Post a Comment