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J'accuse marks the triumphant return of Saez to the sharp-edged alternative rock style that he abandoned six years earlier after his third album, Debbie (2004). Lyrically dense and musically unpredictable, it's a mystifying album that reestablishes singer/songwriter Damien Saez as one of the most remarkable artists in the French alternative community. J'accuse is the album that many fans had been long awaiting as Saez dabbled with different styles and defied expectations time and time again. On the other hand, defying expectations is something that fans had come to expect from Saez. Despite breaking into the Top Ten with his second album, God Blesse (2002), and nearly topping the charts a couple years later with Debbie, Saez has always gone against the grain. Maddened by the commercial success of Debbie, he quit the recording industry altogether for several years and confined himself to live performances and Internet output. When he finally resurfaced, it was with a bewildering triple album of chanson, Varsovie-L'Alhambra-Paris (2008), and an English-language odds-and-ends effort billed to the moniker Yellow Triangle, A Lovers Prayer (2009). Perhaps Saez needed to go through what he did and leave commercial success behind for a while before returning to the alternative rock style that brought him fame in the first place. It's hard to say. Whatever his motives, it's a relief to hear him once again doing what he does best, pushing the boundaries of French rock. J'accuse opens with a tantalizing three-minute a cappella, "Les Anarchitectures," before kicking into gear with the full-throttle hard rock of "Pilule." From a musical standpoint, "Pilule" isn't a significant departure from the first half of A Lovers Prayer, but it sure sounds a lot better to hear Saez kicking out the jams in French. Not that his English is bad on A Lovers Prayer; it's just that he's a far more interesting lyricist in French. Its title referencing a famous article written by Émile Zola, J'accuse is a cascade of language. The title track is especially dense. Not until the nine-minute instrumental interlude "Regarder Les Filles Pleurer (Thème)" does Saez stop to catch his breath. Fans of Saez's first three albums should rejoice. J'accuse is the return to form that they've been long awaiting. It's still a difficult album, make no mistake. The second half is particularly knotty. Yet it wouldn't be an effective Saez album if it weren't challenging to some extent.

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