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Album Review: Sebastien Tellier – L’Aventura

3 min read

French singer-songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Sebastien Tellier has forged a steady career for himself since 2001’s L’incroyable Vérité with his own brand of dreamy, tri-lingual quirk-pop. With five solid albums already under his belt, this month he returns for his sixth full-length outing L’Aventura. A ten-track journey through reverbed-out strings, percussive tapesteries, synthesizer mastery and comforting vocals, L’Aventura picks up where the textural bliss of 2013’s Confection left off.

Sebastien Tellier - L'AventuraOpening up with Love – a largely instrumental builder that sits somewhere between Café Del Mar and the Flaming Lips at their most relaxed – L’Aventura’s left-of-centre aesthetic is clear from the beginning. It could be the fact that these songs aren’t in English, but this leaves room for the mind to wander, grasping onto whichever otherwordly layering is going on around the hushed, carefree vocals. Following on, Sous les rayons du soleil sounds like 3am in a deserted video-game arcade whereas first single Ma Calypso has an 8-bit bossa-nova feel, lending further to the sense of sun-soaked wonder that permeates most of the record.

The secluded Brasilian beach-party vibe is continued on L’adulte and while Ricky Adolescent funks things up a little, it utilizes the cinematic strings and electro bleeps that set L’Aventura apart to great effect. It wouldn’t be entirely out of place on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and paves the way for the respectfully ‘80s synth-pop of Alle vers le soleil nicely.

The centrepiece of the record has to be the 14-minute Comment revoir Oursinet? which storms in with epic strings before launching into a vast soundscape which plays like a textural kindred spirit for Dark Side of the Moon. To discount the Pink Floyd influence altogether would be foolish but at the same time, Tellier brings his own flair to the time-honored tradition of the “epic space-rock jam” with some gorgeous string arrangements and his brooding, sensual vocals.

The thankfully-less-than-3-minute L’amour carnaval provides some respite after such a grand undertaking in the form of a quaint little folk/pop exercise that is as mysterious as it is soothing. Ambiance Rio picks things up a little with a Remain In Light-era Talking Heads disco-punk feel that works incredibly before the record comes to a colossal close with L’enfant vert. It’s here where Tellier’s vocals slip from intimate to a little creepy in parts but the ambitious layering is effective in wrapping up a record that often relies on what’s happening in the background to maintain interest. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing…

Overall, L’Aventura is a solid album for an afternoon spent drinking cocktails on a private beach. However none of the songs really have the immediacy or memorability to go any further than something to chuck on while you’re tanning. It’s an ambitious record that is no doubt an accomplishment from a musician’s standpoint, but it kind of just washes over you without really leaving anything behind.