Release Date: Jul 15, 2014
Record label: Record Makers
Genre(s): Vocal, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Chamber Pop, Ambient Pop, French Pop, Nouvelle Chanson
As the World Cup reaches its sharp end, what better tribute than a lurid, kitschy concept album about an imagined childhood spent in Brazil by a French auteur who depicts himself naked on a giant bird of paradise on the cover? Sébastien Tellier has always done things his own way, from his unchanging image — think Serge Gainsbourg at Altamont — to representing France at Eurovision in 2008 and actually getting away with it, and here he delivers a 14-minute psychedelic disco odyssey (‘Comment Revoir Oursinet?’) about missing his teddy bear. The rest of ‘L’Aventura’, his sixth album, is deep-pile funk (‘Sous Les Rayons Du Soleil’), bouncing electro-soul (‘Aller Vers Le Soleil’) and as cheesy as a Camembert cravat. Fantastique, then.
France’s most invigorating sonic auteur, Sébastien Tellier, has a work rate to make many an artist jealous. His taut ethic means that although he only released a record last year – Confection – he’s ready to drop another doozy. It’s impressive that’s released three LPs in as many years. The Parisian has won over hearts across the globe for his profoundly affecting electronica, Serge Gainsbourg-esque Franco-pop and cinematic compositions.
When Sébastien Tellier performed at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, the hairy ideologue arrived on stage riding a golf buggy and clutching an inflatable globe, while flanked by a troupe of cooing support singers, all sporting replicas of his trademark shaggy facial hair and jagged sunglasses. Suffice to say, the French musician has a lucid vision; one that tends towards the experimental. Since launching his career over a decade ago, Tellier has germinated from traditional chanson, to libidinous French touch, to grand orchestral composition, with varying degrees of success.
Sébastien Tellier has never been one to shy away from huge concepts. Since launching his career in 2001 with an assist from his pals in the frothy French pop duo Air, he’s laden his albums with the weight of terms like Politics and Sexuality. Even when he’s taking a more personal tack, like on 2012’s My God Is Blue, he still supplies lofty backstories, and his new record, L’Aventura, is no different: the album is supposed to be a musical reimagining of his childhood, a fantasy inspired by the sights of sounds of Brazil rather than the reality of his French home.
Arriving shortly after his aptly named chamber pop homage Confection, Sébastien Tellier gives that album's romantic feel a Brazilian twist with L'Aventura. Recorded in Bougival and Rio de Janeiro as well as Paris, the album captures the summery feel of samba, bossa nova, and more, yet Tellier's take on the sounds of Brazil never feels touristy or heavy-handed. Several of these songs are actually quite subtle in how they incorporate Brazilian elements, such as "Aller Vers le Soleil"'s gossamer synth pop.
Sebastian Tellier is not interested in current trends, instead operating in his own singular world. On L'Aventura, his sixth album, Bossa Nova is the loose theme, and he gives the sound a generous coating of Parisian swagger. Starting with Love, a flute-led stroll around a pastoral scene, the album is full of lush, expansive music that seems wholly concerned with whisking you off into an Antonio Carlos Jobim-shaped universe.
Sébastien Tellier has never been slow to surprise. Both visually and musically, he’s a definite advocate of the ‘shock and awe’ technique. The nakedness, the raw, pulsing sexuality, the sheer animal magnetism of that beard…. It would be tempting to call him a male Brigitte Bardot, if it wasn’t for the sheer surrealism of his projects.