Autour de Lucie

Immobile

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    9
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Quite a change from the Sarah Records-type sound of Autour de Lucie's self-titled debut, 1998's Immobile largely trades in the gauzy acoustic guitars for subtle watercolor keyboards and electronic beats too subtle even to be called trip-hop. Like a Francophone Cocteau Twins or perhaps the quieter moments of My Bloody Valentine, Autour de Lucie creates sensuous, dreamy pop music that's got just enough substance to keep from floating off into the ether. As always, most of the charm is due to singer Valérie Leulliot's soft, breathy, but self-assured vocal style, which is like a less-deadpan version of her countrywoman, Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab). It probably helps if one is not fluent in the language of love, since the title of the standout track, the dream pop murmur "La Verité (Sur Ceux Qui Mentent)," translates as "The Truth (About Those Who Lie)," suggesting a distressing level of earnestness. The way the songs subtly introduce jarring, discordant sounds -- like the Cecil Taylor-like piano runs that close the brief instrumental "Sagrada Familia" -- suggests that all is not well on Immobile, and those hints of tension are what give the album its listenability.

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