Gaëtan Roussel


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France does not have much of a presence on the rock map, but Gaëtan Roussel's debut solo album prove that the country still has something to offer in that department. The record's nothing groundbreaking, to be sure -- the music is built around clean guitar strumming and simplistic but bouncy beats that sound vaguely retro, as if Joe Dassin or even the Beatles were in a mood for some groove, but drew inspiration from Montmartre street music. The vocals are also a focal point, though Roussel does not qualify for chanson -- he is too reserved for that, and is never trying to make his cocky half-whisper, half-chant sexy (though it still is every now and then). This setup suffices to make the music moderately fun, just because Roussel can pull off some hooks with these admittedly sparse means, but thankfully, he does not stop there, adding a bit of electronica to the mix -- rhythms, mostly, but synth textures, too, sometimes to go with the quirky guitars and sometimes to replace them, as on "DYWD," which would make a prime-rate disco cut were it not too dry and too smart for the style. Clever arrangements don't end there, either, whirling from the annoyingly sticky refrain of the opening track to theatrically noir-ish strings and brass of the closing cut, which sounds almost like an epic version of Pram with their nighttime-cat-stroll mood (the vibe is present throughout the record, but only reaches full bloom in the finale). Purists may note that the catchiest moments of Ginger are those where English lyrics are used, but that may as well be a tongue-in-cheek trick of Roussel's, who is firmly in control of the hooks, moods, and swagger on all of his tunes.

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