It seems a little bit early to be talking about Album of the Year, but Shadow People by The Limiñanas has got to be in with a shout. This impossibly stylish and polished album by the French psych duo Marie and Lionel is the perfect way to start 2018.
Hailing from Perpignan, a place associated with medieval beauty, it’s difficult to see how music that is so modern and urban can come from such a place. Other than the language, there isn’t even a particular Frenchness (except for the bit with Emmanuelle Seigner) about Shadow People. What there is instead is a skilful blend of old and new, with sixties psych sitting happily alongside some seriously beautiful modern melodies.
Part French, part English and part instrumental, everything on this album is a pleasure, a word used entirely in its sensory meaning. Shadow People is book-ended by two instrumental pieces. ‘Ouverture’ and ‘De La Part Des Copains’ are cinematic in their apparent referencing of Tarantino and blisteringly cool. The latter could accompany the wedding scene in the desert in Kill Bill.
Throughout, the sound is sensual, and whilst cohesive, never without delights. Some songs thrum louder than others and some are altogether more seductive. ‘Le Premier Jour’ is full of Gallic insouciance, Lionel’s voice intoning in French over an aloof backdrop of bass, drums and guitar. Similarly, ‘Dimanche’ has a Ghostpoet quality, but against a more futuristic electronic backdrop. The smoothness with which the burst of Ennio Morricone guitar halfway through melds with the rest of the track is a demonstration of the sheer talent of The Limiñanas.
Frankly, it’s difficult to single out any track as every song is a highlight. ‘Istanbul Is Sleepy’ draws on The Velvet Underground with Marie providing some superb Mo Tucker drumming. Indeed, the song itself is velvety and laidback like a chaise longue in a Parisian apartment. Arrondisement of your own choice.
‘The Gift’ is possibly the lightest of the tracks. A duet but with Marie singing in English like a French Clare Grogan and a guitar hook like The Cure’s ‘Inbetween Days’. ‘Trois Bancs’ is Death In Vegas with Iggy Pop but with a sexy French vocal rather than a potentially homicidal one. You’re somewhere subterranean with Andy Warhol with this track. A trance-inducing sustained bassline, drumming, tambourine and guitar gives way to rhythmic rabid dog barking – you better hope it’s behind a barbed wire fence. Marie joins in halfway and they increase the raucousness and the urgency without raising the volume. This is dark psychedelia, you’ll find no bright colours here.
Shadow People will be released on 19th January 2018 through Because Music.