Vincent Vallières

Bordel Ambiant

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Stunning. It is simply stunning that someone who started so weakly could have developed this quickly into a full-blown Quebec rock artist. In all fairness, Vincent Vallières' first CD was not really bad, it simply tried to market him as a teen idol, something he clearly was not (that's called bad production/management choices). Too cleaned up and polished, his songs lacked depth and honesty. This time around, he managed to deliver a strong, gripping, highly cohesive CD, the kind that will age very well and still holds many promises not fulfilled -- guaranties for future albums. Most importantly, it is closer to the real Vallières, to his live sound: raw, moody, and just a bit off the wall. For Bordel Ambiant, Vallières kept his usual sidemen -- bassist Michel-Olivier Gasse and drummer Claude Lacroix -- now forming an exciting rhythm section, and worked with Les Chiens' Éric Goulet, who engineered the recording sessions (in a cottage, favoring a live-in-the-studio sound to stick closer to Vallières' live energy), produced them, and also contributed guitars and keyboards. The album opens with two slow, repetitive, and slightly identical songs: "Heille Toé" and "Y Fait Beau." The influence of Daniel Boucher is here very strong, making for a somewhat unsuitable opening. Vallières' own voice becomes more obvious in the upbeat "Plate" and "Gilles Lefèvre," and occasionally shows similarities with Fred Fortin, Barenaked Ladies, or even mid-'70s Robert Charlebois. His humor and fondness of poetic plays on words are showcased in "Les Grandes Questions" and "Danse au Soleil," respectively. Goulet's ambiences complete his folk-rockish attitudes. Lyrics are all in French and often rooted in the here and now, making them difficult to understand for someone unfamiliar with the Quebec vernacular and popular culture.

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