Lou Doillon – Soliloquy

loudoillon

Depending on which landmass your mother decided to shoot you onto, Lou Doillon is a household name. In the parisian world, Lou is a pop princess by birthright. She’s the daughter of Jane Birkin, for fuck’s sake. If you’re not close to the Eiffel Tower and you’re blanking on that name, merde, I feel sorry for you. It’s only Charlotte Gainsbourg’s mother. Huh? You don’t know her? C’est pas possible ! Holy fuck! Gainsbourg?! You know, like Serge Gainsbourg! What?! It’s Serge fucking Gainsbourg! Mais putain ! Lou is also the daughter of Jacques Doillon, but everyone knows of Jacques… You what?! Eh merde, j’abandonne

Needless to say, Lou was born into a world few of us will ever know. And although there’s a lot of privileges that would come with being born into chic French stardom, there would be a side that’s not so nice. For instance: for the rest of your life, no matter what the fuck you do, you’ll always wonder if you earned one single thing out of your own merit. Are your friends actually friends with you? Do people actually like your music, voice, songwriting, personality, hair, face, walk, jokes, cooking, company, and conversation or is everyone around just a bunch of greedy starfuckers? Worst off? How the fuck would you prove either point? Think about it. You’d never know. That shit sounds pretty lonely to me.

Outside of this Lou continues to make music. This is her third album (Places in 2012 [she won a French grammy for this one] and Lay Low in 2015). And, holy fuck, is this ever fucking good. She’s got a Fiona Apple crack and grunt in her voice that sends shivers down my spine. The production backing her voice is solid. Instrumentation is forward, funky, and imaginative. Her lyrics explore the depths of relationships with a cruel bite that bleeds seduction, power, and vulnerability. There’s even a vocal cameo from Cat Power on this motherfucker.

There’s a lot of bad French press for this album which isn’t too fucking surprising. But, personally, I’ve been waiting a long time for an album like this. It’s honest, fun, fresh, full, not too predictable. And, most importantly, there’s a beating heart at its center. Thing is, depending on your landmass, Lou Doillon is already a household name. So you may judge this album differently. This reminds me of an old joke:

“A bunch of monkeys are climbing a tree. One monkey, nearing the top, looks down to see a bunch of smiling monkey faces. Another monkey, nearing the bottom of the tree, looks up to see a bunch of assholes.”

Hey, I could be wrong. Maybe these critiques had nothing to do with Lou’s popularity. Even so, I feel like this album deserves to be heard without a celebrity bias. So, if you didn’t recognize any of those French names at the beginning, c’est peut-être mieux comme ça. Listen to this fucking album. Find out if you like Lou for Lou and not for her mommy and daddy. God knows she’ll appreciate it.

3 thoughts

  1. It’s such a fun game, working out what pop(ular) music is good, because you have less reliability than any other genre. Obviously there’ll be a mass of people extolling its virtues, who don’t really know what they’re talking about (not that that makes their liking it unimportant, just less helpful). Then there’s the ones extolling it for music-political reasons, blogs jumping on the occasional hype train to seem more diverse and hip. Then the ones who hate it simply because it’s pop(ular). Add it all up, and you really have only youself (and maybe a handful of critics you trust) to *rely on* in judging it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fun question! If we’re talking mainstream popular, it’s gotta be Charli XCX – Pop 2. There’s so much going on in that album; I remember listening to it early on as just a fun pop album, but as bits of the hooks, production, lyrics, themes et al stuck with me, I was surprised more and more by it. Some deep flaws, but I think most of them are secondary – for example, the features are many and sometimes distracting, but when you listen to them as the voices inside Charli’s head, and start noticing the themes of abuse and violence running through the tape, the flaws, while still flaws, start to *matter* less. That said, it was a fairly hipster-popular album last year; so I’ll head a bit further back.

      For one unjustly ignored classic, I’ll go with a local release, 1990’s ‘Submarine Bells’, by The Chills (one of those 1-key-member-plus-revolving-cast bands like The Cure, in this case a Mr Martin Phillips). The key word is ‘effervescent’, which I actually learned from a song on the album, ‘Don’t Be: Memory’. Opening track, ‘Heavenly Pop Hit’, is just that; distill the worshipful atmosphere of Bach’s religious stuff (not that I know an awful lot about it) into a relatively jangle-less jangle pop song about dying and being reborn as an angel (maybe – the lyrics are vague), and you’ve more or less got that one down. Elsewhere there’s NEU!’s chugging rhythm reborn as the Cocteau Twins (Singing in My Sleep), bell-like guitar solos (Part Past Part Fiction), punkishly melodic stuff (Familiarity Breeds Contempt), and the most tender musings in all post-punk (I Soar, which me daddy wants played at his funeral). Essential – but forgotten.

      Together, those two cover the main poles – old and new, widely underappreciated vs only publicly, synthetic and heartfelt vs organic and heartfelt. Both

      Like

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