Klô Pelgag - Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs
6d ago
80
It's always great when an album can simply be so brilliant by itself, that it overcomes barriers that would stop most people from even trying

Klô Pelgag is the musical moniker of Chloé Pelletier-Gagnon, a singer-songwriter from Quebec, Canada. The barrier that i mentioned is that Klô sings in French and I'm an uncultured idiot who can barely speak English...
Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs is her third album under this name and is a wonderful mix of richly layered Baroque Pop with all the trappings of Art-Pop. Fantastically catchy and incredibly sweet at the same time.

The title track that opens the project is an instrumental cut that helps lead into the album with gentle swelling synths, strings and vocals harmonies, setting the scene for much of the additional instrumentation in the background of many of the songs here. This is then juxtaposed upon hearing the first proper song on the record, Rémora, which is based mostly around a very upbeat synthesizer melody. A strong bass line and vocals melody then take control and introduce Klô properly as someone who is very talented at what she does. The track transitions to a powerful ballad with strong percussive elements for a minute in the middle before returning to a magnificent finish.

Umami then adds even more energy and something of a pep to its step, a strong Pop song, with backing vocals a glistening guitar. The second half moves in an interesting direction by focusing on the vocals both at the front and back of the mix.

J'aurai les cheveux longs then strips things down to just vocals, piano and some strings. This allows the verses to be subtle and soft and the choruses to be beautifully melancholic and powerful as the strings add even more emotional weight behind Pelgag's voice. During the last minute some synths are added to embellish the final verse and chorus giving the end an extra oomph of power and emotion. À l'ombre des cyprès maintains the relatively sparse use of synths, but brings the energy back up with much of the other instruments returning. Just a lovely string-back Pop track, that somehow manages to hide its 5 1/2 minute runtime.

La fonte then strips the music even further, a short piano ballad that allows the melody and the tone of her voice to take the centre stage. Soleil reminds me of some Chanson, a French genre that birthed numerous unsung equivalents to Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, my personal favourite is Jacques Brel. Another ballad, but one that uses a brass section for its sole instrumentation giving the song a warm, but distant vibe, like singing to someone no longer here. Für Élise continues the soft Chanson style singing, but has slightly fuller music backing, her. It's probably the most underwhelming track on here musically though sadly.

Mélamine brings back the synths in full force. Moving away from Chanson and straight towards the Art-Pop of Susanne Sundfør. Bombastic, but not in a way that overtakes the vocals or from the flow of the record. Some unusual percussion elements and multi-layered vocals help make the track one of the best here. Où vas-tu quand tu dors ? Lightens up the mood a little, by moving towards Pop again, but still very much in the synthesizer wheel-house. Moments of ambience are a lovely touch in the middle of the song and let some of the extra instruments shine solo for a moment. The track then transitions again, going into one of the most eclectic and noisy outros of the record.

La maison jaune is the final proper song here and has some of Klô's most emotional vocals. It feels like it's trying to meld several of the sounds that have been used across the record, moments of weirdness, piano led, string backed with light touches of synths. All of this leads to a magnificent crescendo and moves perfectly into the actual outro song. The second title track is another instrumental and gives the listener a couple of minutes to digest the beautiful record they've just listened to, starting out as a warm wave of synths, it slowly unfurls into a gentle and slow piano.

I haven't really touched on lyrics so far, mostly because i have to use Google translate for help. But if there's one song you should check out for its lyrics as well it would be À l'ombre des cyprès or In the shade of the cypresses in English. While the music is rather upbeat the lyrics are dark and even morose at points:

"I would like the fire consumes me full
I would be the corpse scent of lily
Bury me in the shade of cypress"

From what i can tell, it's about someone depressed, most likely even suicidal:

"I already have no more habits
I am the wolf without the moon
I already have no more worries
I am lost, I presume
I join you not far
From the shadow of the cypresses"

I just find it to be a brilliant move to put such heavy lyrics in front of such a lively song. While plenty of other artists do the same, it just hits a little harder when you have to look up the words yourself.

Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs is a wonderful record, incredibly well produced with plenty of instrumental options all across the album. It also delves into various different styles, from those classic to France to some that are far more popular now. Moments of hauting beauty and moments of bouncy fun can be found all across the record, each with its own potent emotional core that just needs a little extra effort to be put in to enjoy as fully as an English sung song/album.

Favourites: Rémora, J'aurai les cheveux longs, La fonte, Mélamine, Où vas-tu quand tu dors ?, La maison jaune
Least Favs: Für Élise
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