François & the Atlas Mountains

Solide Mirage

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With the release of their fourth album, 2014's Piano Ombre, French-English outfit Fránçois & the Atlas Mountains moved into subtler territory, painting darker hues and tones into their finely crafted indie pop. In the intervening years since its release, frontman Fránçois Merry relocated to Brussels, a multicultural capital in the heart of Europe, which helped nourished the socially conscious new material that would become 2017's Solide Mirage. A journeyman of sorts, Merry formed the band in his adopted city of Bristol, England before moving them back to his native France to record Piano Ombre. His wanderlust can be heard in his music's globally influenced timbre that fuses polyrhythmic Afro-beat elements with French traditions and elegant pop arrangements. On Solide Mirage, the group's third release for the Domino label, Merry and his crew deliver a layered set that ranges from the mellow dream-like "Rentes Écloses" to the unexpected fuzzed-out banger "Bête Morcelée." In between the two extremes are more fine examples of the thoughtful, nuanced indie pop that make up the core of the Atlas Mountains' growing catalog. From the gorgeous string-laden "1982" to the toothy, nimble guitar groove of opener "Grand Dérèglement," Merry flashes creative chops that seem to improve with each record. Underscoring these songs is an added element of social consciousness, where the singer refers to issues of political upheaval, terrorism, immigration, and the plight of refugees. In interviews, Merry has stated that as an artist, he feels a responsibility to describe the social climate, and with Solide Mirage, he's done so here in a way that brings an added tension and drama to his vibrant music.

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