Release Date: Nov 11, 2013
Record label: Record Makers
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
The word "confection" could easily describe Sébastien Tellier's entire musical approach: along with other acts with French roots such as Air and Stereolab, Tellier excels at capturing and modernizing the most romantic and dramatic moments of late-'60s and early-'70s instrumental pop as well as making its kitschier moments sound stylish. He's grown ever more conceptual and chameleon-like over the years; even his most overtly pop albums, like his breakthrough Sexuality and the utopian disco of My God Is Blue, reflect his fondness for exploring a theme while showcasing different aspects of his music. He modeled the largely instrumental Confection after film scores -- an area of music he has some experience with, having written music for the 2004 movie Narco -- but the album could also pass for a more sophisticated version of his debut, 2001's L'Incroyable Verite.
Sébastien Tellier is still best known in the States as the louche, besunglassed Frenchman whose 2008 album Sexuality layered the electro-disco sound that was big in Paris at the time with thick dollops of a particularly retro kind of theatrical sleaziness distilled from early-VHS-era pornography. But while he certainly excels at the role of the Eurotrash slimeball, he actually has a far broader range than that. A devotee of Serge Gainsbourg, Tellier has inherited the master’s ambitious genre-hopping habit (as well as his arch-Gallic oleaginity), and aside from house-y synthpop he’s recorded Gainsbourg-style baroque pop, slightly skewed takes on contemporary radio pop, an album of piano ballads, and a film score.
Now, far be it for us to be seen to be peddling national stereotypes, but the French do seem to have this innate ability to produce high quality electro and electronica that’s smoother than Kojak’s bonce. Aside from the summer smash of the disco-fied Daft Punk record, one need only look at how well Air’s ‘Moon Safari’ has stood up, despite being 15 years old, for proof. At the more cinematic end of the scale (fittingly, his work has been used from directors from Sofia Coppola to Joachim Trier), Sébastien Tellier has been quietly going about his own thing too, most famously on longtime Late Night Tales staple ‘La Ritournelle’.
When Tellier emerged circa 2001, he was pitched as a kind of outsider protégé of fellow French sophisticates Air, to whose former label he remains signed. He’s never really looked like attaining actual stardom, but evidently retains independent freedom: his sixth album is going to be a tough sell to most. Tellier does burst into voice early on, for ‘L’Amour Naissant’, but if you crave the edgy croon of popular past efforts – cult fave ‘La Ritournelle’, or his showing in Eurovision 2008 – hard cheese, because ‘Confection’ is otherwise all instrumental.
There’s an oddly comforting feel to Confection, French electro-pop guru Sébastien Tellier‘s fifth studio album. It’s warm, welcoming and gorgeously atmospheric – close your eyes and you can almost imagine wandering down the Champs-Élysées with this as your soundtrack. Yet the sheer familiarity of much of this album is also to his disadvantage.
Never a man to play things by the book, dream-pop iconoclast Sébastien Tellier has created a sixth album that is an almost entirely instrumental affair. But the fact that his one deviation from type—the louche piano-stroking glide of "L'Amour Naissant"—represents the album's unclouded apex, is a telling indication of what this 14-song LP lacks. .
France’s bearded electro king Sébastien Tellier returns to our ears after a brief intermission since last year’s lauded My God Is Blue, with fresh LP Confection. Don’t get any notions of Tellier veering towards bubblegum or gallivanting with stevia-sweet sounds; this is a broad, sprawling exploration of the sonic arts. Similarly, don’t expect candied vocals (in fact, it’d be prudent not to really expect many vocals at all) or a pop glaze as Confection is more akin to an electronic symphony, or the OST to a dramatic fantasy film never brought to fruition.