Monday, May 3, 2010


The Big Machine

French goddess Emilie Simon markets her wares to Oz. So Frenchy, so chic, charming and just plain cool.

Never mind being big in Japan, Emilie Simon is gigantic in France. Her previous two studio releases and her soundtrack for La Marche de l'Empereur (which was cut from the English version, March of the Penguins) never received an Australian release. So, as many fans are rolling out the red carpet, there are tenfold more pricking up their ears for the first time.

This record is sonically different to her previous work - bolder, more self-assured and showier. It's a sure step away from her token ethereal sound, but you can still expect her to tie different genres, languages and tones together with sophistication. She still melds organic tones with harsh synths and spell-breaking crescendos. But here the setting is entirely different; a swanky spot on the outskirts of town, or even a cabaret, rather than a wintery forest full of nymphs and fairies. The most noticeable difference is the strength and experimentation of Simon's vocals on almost all tracks.

Tracks to listen out for include 'Rainbow', with vocals reminiscent of British darling, Kate Nash, if she were a Parisian sweetheart and a winning hook that's sure to draw her some local attention. A surprising track is the synth-heavy 'Chinatown', backing reflective alt-pop vocals with a persistent beat, worth a listen for its' unique composition. Jazzier tunes like 'Rocket to the Moon' and 'The Devil at my Door' are interesting inclusions, but the latter is a far better example. The record's life and blood is dreamy electronica/pop with quirky breakdowns and beautiful lyrics, such as standouts 'Dreamland', 'The Cycle' and 'Nothing to do with You'.

Sample tracks can be found here and new listeners can become acquainted with her back catalogue at Simon's MySpace.

Upside: Australian audiences will be exposed to this release.

Downside: 'Rocket to the Moon', which is a fantastic single but detracts from the unity of the record.

Best lyric: From 'The Cycle' - "No one came to me and took my soul/ There's no one to blame, I dig my hole/and fall and rise, and fall and rise, and fall".

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