Release Date: Mar 17, 2014
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, French Pop
Finally, Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains fulfil the early promises of their joyous and carefree music. All it took was the decision to record in a proper studio for the first time; hunkering down near Bordeaux to craft their third album with producer Ash Workman (Metronomy/NZCA Lines) has paid off immediately. The charming, poetic Frànçois has previously stolen hearts with his unpredictable and ramshackle combustion of beguiling lyrics – in both French and English – and his ability to slide from moody rock to high-life funk in the drop of clever cognate.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Familiarity breeds contempt, or so the saying goes. I disagree; there's a lot to be said for the familiar when we're talking about the intimate, the comfortable and the informal. It was maybe Fránçois Marry's decision to relocate to Bristol in his late teens to form Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains that made their last album E Volo Love such a familiar record, one you could connect with and understand even if you didn't have a good grasp of the French language.
A lot of the descriptions for Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains’ previous album ‘E Volo Love’ – and their first for Domino – used words like ‘charming’ and ‘breezy.’ They had a point, yet as Frànçois himself noted at the time, after releasing a handful of sugary sweet albums for King Creosote’s Fence label, ‘There’s more muscle in what I do now’. ‘Piano Ombre’ shows another work out has been undergone.Sure there’s the same, er, breezy pop tones, yet there’s a honed, muscular edge, a sense that these songs have been worked into shape. Part of the reason may be that this is his first album recorded in a studio proper, and it shows.
Following a pair of sunny, self-produced indie albums, French band François & the Atlas Mountains signed with classic British label Domino Records to release 2012's E Volo Love. With its romantic, breezy indie pop and vaguely African-influenced arrangements, it proved to be a sort of breakout success for the band, which is led by native Frenchman François Marry. Having formerly relocated to Bristol, England to begin his musical career and form the band, Marry has returned to his homeland, repopulating the Atlas Mountains with fellow countrymen for their 2014 release, Piano Ombre.
E Volo Love was a breakout album, if you will. The first major release from Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains since signing to Domino in 2011, the album saw them receive prestigious festival slots and a reputation for summery, upbeat pop tunes. Piano Ombre is their second full length offering since hitting the big leagues. Translating to 'Calm Down Shadow' - to no longer be scared by things - it seems there's been some dark happenings since their last effort.
Listening to Francois and the Atlas Mountains’ new Piano Ombre fills me with dread – especially about halfway through the album. Not because the album is an unrelenting downer or replete with morbid preoccupation, but because I cannot cope with how quickly it all seems to come and go. The album, that is. Let’s start at the last song, “Bien Sur” which closes the album on the highest note possible.