Vincent Vallières

Le Monde Tourne Fort

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Despite Vincent Vallières' Quebec heritage, Le Monde Tourne Fort sounds like premium-quality Euro-rock -- at least until he gets carried away with expanding the style, which happens more often than it ought to, but not enough to spoil the nice taste of the record. The best qualities of the record are exemplified by the two first tracks -- both elegant, melancholic, but relaxed rock songs, neither too frantic nor plodding in tempo, devoid of big hooks or extravagant arrangements, but excelling simply because of the meticulous songwriting that ties together acoustic textures, simple guitar licks, and background synth tinges in a perfect soundtrack for a stroll by the riverbank in the old part of town. Many analogies spring to mind, from Scandinavian pop -- including more obscure acts such as Superjeg -- to Swiss Züri West or sped-up Tindersticks, but that's not because Le Monde Tourne Fort is a ripoff, but simply since all these artists inhabit the same introspective places of the rock spectrum. However, Vallières is not content to do a whole record of similar-sounding songs -- which is laudable in theory, but produces some less than exciting results here. In the retro-sounding "En Attendant le Soleil," those crafty arrangements are able to camouflage the sparse core of the song, but the one stab at uptempo rock, "Le Temps Est Long," is almost embarrassing for its lack of power, and deeper into the album, Vallières occasionally starts to rely on his acoustic strumming too much. But still, for the most part, he manages to keep the bar high enough to prevent the record's quietly charming vibe from dissolving into a bland singer/songwriter yawn-fest.

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