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Songs We Love: Essaie Pas, 'Retox'

(L-R) Pierre Guerineau and Marie Davidson of Essaie Pas.
Courtesy of the artist
(L-R) Pierre Guerineau and Marie Davidson of Essaie Pas.

<em>Demain Est Une Autre Nuit </em>(DFA Records 2016)
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Demain Est Une Autre Nuit (DFA Records 2016)

If film director and analog synthesizer enthusiast John Carpenter were to make a French New Wave romantic horror flick, I have a feeling he might enlist Essaie Pas to produce the soundtrack. Until that happens, the best way to experience the Cold Wave-inspired sounds of the Montreal-based duo is via their new album Demain Est Une Autre Nuit. Since I was sent the promo about a month ago, I've had it on repeat in my car, and it's made driving the streets of Philadelphia a truly cinematic experience.

Demain Est Une Autre Nuit, which translates to "Tomorrow Is Another Night," became my favorite record of the year almost immediately, and "Retox" is one of its highlights, a song inspired by and created for the experiences, mysteries and possibilities of night. It opens with a pitch-shifting siren (as if from a synth patch), a simple-yet-powerful 4/4 kick and snare, followed by a rolling arpeggiated analog synth-bass that is reminiscent, of the like-minded sounds of early '80s Sheffield minimalists such as Cabaret Voltaire and Human League. As the analog synth-bass modulates, Pierre Guerineau begins to speak-sing in a dark and disaffected tone, weaving between French verses and the slow repetition of the words "retox" and "detox." The tone and space between Pierre's vocal generates a tension that parallels the instrumentation — and yet a sense of playfulness remains. As the track progresses, a warmer synth harmony is introduced, along with Marie Davidson's hauntingly angelic vocals, ending the track with an unabashed glimmer of feminine light in the midst of the industrial darkness. It is an archetypal soundtrack to the sun-less hours, not only appropriate for the darkness of nights but the darkness of the nightclubs as well.

Demain Est Une Autre Nuit is out now on DFA Records.

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Dave P.
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