When I was still in high school I essentially moved in with an older woman. It was not a morally sound relationship but it was educational in many ways. Considering I wasn’t regularly attending high school during the course of this relationship I suppose it was good I was learning something. Aside from being taught how to drink alcoholically and crush up pills for more effective consumption I also was schooled on the French Symbolist poets. Rimbaud’s “Une Saison En Enfer” and Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs De Mal” went with me everywhere as I was instructed on the nuances of their prose. Baudelaire’s vision of the angelic tortured poet resonated within my malleable teenage heart. So when I asked Isa Pill, singer for the French band Les Manteez, about the their song “Breaking Muse” and she said it could be about Baudelaire and his muse something clicked for me.
Maybe it was our shared admiration for the French poets that connected me to their newest release “Lift”. It’s a gentle album that initially floats in a delicate space but like French poetry there are layered depths beneath its simplicity. Eric Di Martino’s guitar tracks wind around each other creating deep sonic patterns comparable to Galaxie 500 or even Spacemen 3 in certain moments. Isa’s vocal delivery is reminiscent of the French lineage of singers like Jane Birkin or more recently Lætitia Sadier who command intonation and phrasing over notes and melody to create drama. Her poetic lyrics and subtle rhythmic complexities are instantly engaging. On the upbeat “Laughing Angels” the equanimity in her voice has a Kim Deal quality that drives the song over the simple hypnotic repetition of Eric’s guitar refrain. My favorite track on the album is the final song “A Street With No Horns”. Its gentleness and warmth is a perfect accompaniment to the emergence of cherry blossom buds that now illuminate this city with their tiny pink assurances of life.
More important than my tedious literary or pop culture references is that these five songs are infectious and I find myself unconsciously humming their melodies. They are a perfect care free soundtrack as a new season blooms around us and muses are abundant in the newfound light of Spring.