Personnel: Marlon Magnée (guitar).
Mystère is the follow-up to La Femme's 2013 debut, and the pressure is on because Psycho Tropical Berlin was awarded a Victoire de la Musique for Album Révélation of the Year by the French Ministry of Culture. One gets the feeling that the collective's leaders, singer/keyboardist Marlon Magnée and guitarist Sacha Got, don't worry too much about expectations, though, as they deliver more of their free-spirited avant-indie-electronic mosaics. Like their debut, Mystère carries a sound that's at once retro and futuristic, or more precisely like contemporary music might have been imagined by creative souls some decades ago. Those devisers would likely have been French, because classic French pop is one of many elements at play here, along with EDM, '60s surf, synth pop, and psych-rock. "Le Vide Est Ton Nouveau Prénom," for example, is an acoustic-guitar chanson ornamented with sustained synths and occasional choral vocals and organ. Elsewhere, "Oú Va le Monde" offers retro surf noir, "Al Warda" crafts orchestral dance fare, and "SSD" is a four-on-the-floor entry that straddles post-punk and techno, eventually morphing into disco. The album features rotating male and female lead vocalists, sometimes together, and plenty of sci-fi-style sound effects throughout its varied influences, expanding the sound even further. With 15 tracks totaling over 70 minutes, including a 17-minute closer, Mystère's ambition will challenge the ears and endurance of some. Having said that, the album is well sequenced, alternating lighter and heavier tracks, and the whole presentation has that enviable je ne sais quoi -- c'est cool. ~ Marcy Donelson