In the minds of many, Sébastien Tellier will be defined by one of his earlier songs: La Ritournelle. Its gradually ascending chord sequence has been used in countless soundtracks and adverts, and its shuffling groove was provided by Tony Allen, who has recently passed away.
Sixteen years later and the sometime Eurovision contestant, these days a high-fashion face of Chanel and loved up in long term relationship bliss, embodies a new sound on Domesticated, one more sleek and overtly electronic, which creates a shiny exterior for his top-quality songwriting. Tellier’s vocals throughout are modulated to create a breathy, robotic sound, and this is most effective on the uptempo tracks.
His delivery is delightfully ethereal in the verses of Venezia and outrageously catchy on the hook, his syllables welded to the track’s rubbery bass and gated snare. Domestic Tasks uses repetitive phrases to great effect (“a spaceship will land on the field of your heart tonight / welcome to the X in the world of domestic tasks”) over a menacing rumble of a bassline.
The production style switches between retro – the lush ’80s funk groove on Hazy Feelings, for example – and modern – the ticking trap percussion and woozy synths of opening track A Ballet. The downtempo Atomic Smile burbles and fizzes like space-age Burt Bacharach, while the modus operandi of Stuck In A Summer Love is pulsing beats and synth arpeggios.
The record is brief, all too brief in fact, but it ends with one of the best songs. Won goes all out, sickly sweet chords rubbing up against vocoded lyrics and a moody guitar line skulking in the background. By the time cut-up vocals enter into the mix, the track can best be described as Chromeo floating on a cloud, a slick slice of pop perfection.
Domesticated is a blissful trip, managing the enviable feat of being inventive and comforting at the same time, and is highly recommended for all electronic music fans.