The problem with bands that throw everything at the wall to see what will stick is that quite often all that’s left is a messy wall that needs cleaning. Thankfully, there are no smeary murals from Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche on their second album. Pas Pire Pop, I Love You So Much finds the band smashing genre boundaries, experimenting joyfully and creating sonic vistas that veer from the mechanical to explosive outpourings of pure emotion.
Something of a supergroup, Avec Le Soleil features members of Set Fire To Flames, Fly Pan Am and Red Mass (amongst others), and whilst such forays can be a peculiar folly at best, Pas Pire Pop finds the band combining beautifully. Utilising a multitude of styles is a gamble but somehow the band’s artistry and way with an arrangement means that blast beats can sit alongside gentle pastoral guitar lines or atmospheric electronics with no problem whatsoever.
The term “journey” is over used these days, most often to describe a passage of time where a contestant on a reality talent show has moved from singing a shonky cover version to singing another shonky version the following week, and in doing so has had some kind of life changing experience that may or may not be related to Simon Cowell and the family dog. Pas Pire Pop does feel like an actual adventure. Trans-Pop Express utilises Krautrock signifiers to build up a sense of mechanised motion. Whilst there are repetitive beats, mechanical whirring noises, and taut guitar patterns, the vocal harmonies that accompany them possess a sense of wonder and celebration. This is not a merely a depiction of industrial transport, black in soot and hissing in steam; instead, it feels like the start of a trip into a world of promise and excitement.
The next stop is at the beach, for Alizé Et Margaret D Midi Moins Le Quart. Sur la Plage, Un Palmier Ensanglanté. A delicate guitar riff opens up the three-part song, and it’s quite easy to imagine sunlight bouncing off the ocean as Afrobeat rhythms establish themselves. Vocally, it’s like being serenaded by a half-cut David Byrne who just so happens to wandering through the surf with a large rum in hand. It works beautifully, and if it’s the only thing on the album that lacks a sense of discipline, it’s ok, he’s on holiday. As the song progresses a sense of urgency develops, with guitar lines becoming tauter, synths beginning to seethe and there’s occasional drum frenzies for good measure. This back and forth between sun kissed expositions and slightly darker territories via forays into funk and metal gives the whole song an edge that hints at the blood on palms referred to in its title.
Hitting the road again for Tourner incessamment dans éclatement euphorique de soi / Road Painting Ahead the band applies a Fela Kuti filter to the math disco chops of Foals filter and throws a smidgen of skronk into the mix just to be sure. It’s a driving, danceable beast of a song that is practically impossible to resist. That its title roughly translates as “Turn incessantly into euphoric burst of self” is entirely unsurprising as the entire album works towards releasing endless good vibes and it absolutely delivers. There are so many ideas, grooves and interesting deviations on Pas Pire Pop that it is impossible not to be drawn in by it. Rather than being overwhelming, it’s a record that stuns with its hypnotic and jubilant rhythms.