Fabienne Delsol

Four

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After taking a long break from recording, Fabienne Delsol returns with another light-hearted and snappy album that combines the hookiness of the beat group boom, the drama of vintage French pop, and the murky swirl of psychedelia. Her previous solo albums were helmed by Liam Watson at his famed Toerag studio; this time around Delsol takes half the wheel, with the studio's engineer Luke Oldfield also steering. They get a sound that's a little less reverb coated and a bit snappier, bringing Delsol's sound a little closer to the modern era. Not close enough to be be bland or slick; just enough to make the album sound less like a long-lost curio. As before, the songs are split between newly written tracks and covers of decades-old obscurities, both sung by Delsol in her sophisticated style. The new songs were penned by Delsol's bassist and former member of the Bees, Thomas Gardner, and they sound like dusty oldies brought back to shimmering life. The rippling freakbeat rocker "Ladder" has an enchanting melody, lots of sticky vocal hooks, and is one of the album's highlights. His "So Many Could Not" is another high point, a moodily melancholy beat group ballad that features some amazing Mellotron work from Carwyn Ellis, whose magical touch on a variety of keys helps fill out the arrangements.

With the modern angle covered, Delsol and her band were able to delve into some interesting sources for the covers. "When I Awake" is trippy cover of an early Status Quo song given an extra dose of weirdness by feeding Delsol's vocals through a muddy Leslie speaker; "The Face" is an emotion-caked garage rock ballad originally done by the Human Beinz and given an upgrade thanks to Delsol's deeply felt vocals and the band's punchy backing; and Intricate Blend's "Door Knob" is changed from a wild baroque folk song by a weird Texas band into a streamlined mod workout with some blazing fuzz guitar. Delsol also covers a classic Françoise Hardy song from 1968, "J’ai Fait De Lui Un Rêve," capturing the song's stately charms while adding some buzzing guitars and soaring Mellotron. This song and the rest of the covers are done exactly right, with respect to the original but played and sung with unique style and personality. Delsol and her crew have plenty of each, and they make the covers sounds as much hers as the songs skillfully written for her by Gardiner. Four is another special record from an artist who can do no wrong, except for not making albums more regularly.

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