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Album review: Yelle - L'Ère du Verseau

Album review: Yelle - L'Ère du Verseau | Random J Pop

I didn’t want to talk too much about French pop outfit Yelle’s third studio album Complètement fou, given that it was executive produced by Dr. Puke and featured songs produced by both him and members of his team, AND the album released through his label. But it’s kinda unavoidable. Especially as that album was my introduction to Yelle and what they did on that album does feed into what they deliver here with L'Ère du Verseau.

Whilst Dr. Puke did produce the album title track “Complètement fou”, his touch on the song felt light, as it did on the album. The only song where Dr. Puke really came through strong was on “Un jour viendra”, which sounded very much like a song intended for Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream or Prism; featuring many of Puke’s production signatures. I hate how much I actually liked this song too.

Whilst Dr. Puke does not have a hand in L'Ère du Verseau, the primed for radio pop sensibilities that he had Yelle tap into for songs such as “Complètement fou” and “Un jour viendra” do come through on a couple of songs here, such as “J’veux Un Chien” and “Peine De Mort”. But make no mistake. Yelle have always known how to make a catchy pop song. Safari Disco Club was proof of that.

Yelle’s music crosses the entire spectrum of pop and dance. It always has since the beginning. But there is a definite sense on this album of Yelle really honing their craft, which was surely in part due to their proximity to Dr. Puke on Complètement fou. That man is trash, but he knows how to make good pop music. Max Martin knew exactly what he was doing when he took him under his wing, and that fool soaked it all up.

Album review: Yelle - L'Ère du Verseau | Random J Pop

Yelle’s albums are usually a good time, and feature straight up bops and high energy. L'Ère du Verseau is still a good time, but there’s a darkness and a pensiveness to it. It’s fitting for an album released in 2020, despite the entire thing being recorded and completed before Miss Corona started her Contamination World Tour. Yelle’s albums have always featured songs which are piss-takes on aspects of life and the world as they see it. There’s always been this surrealist aspect to their music where it feels like it’s touching on things which aren’t real, despite being about very real things. But L'Ère du Verseau feels far more reflective and closer to reality than Yelle’s previous albums. And again, for an album which was not written as any form of reflection on current affairs, there are songs on this album which feel like they were. “Vue D'en Face” speaks of being home alone, peeking into the lives of others from afar, and yearning to be a part of somebody else’s life. And the song even has itself a video which is wholly relatable, featuring two people dancing at home in pyjamas wrapped in duvets. It’s a whole quarantine vibe.

Don’t let the melancholy fool you though. L'Ère du Verseau still has bops and songs you can bump your hips to. Album opener “Émancipense” will make you puis fais des ronds avec ton bassin. “Karate” hits in a way and has BPM count that’s of an ideal speed to vogue down to. “Menu Du Jour” has a bassline and a tempo that makes for some modest titty ‘n’ ass shaking. "Peine De Mort" is only a few degrees shy of being an Afrobeats cut. And “Noir” is dad dancing central.

But it is the slower, more melancholic moments that this album shines brightest for me, because it highlights the most dramatic shifts for Yelle, but one that still feels right and doesn’t feel disparate from anything else on the album. "Je T’aime Encore" is gorgeous and one of the best songs Yelle has put out, and Yelle has put out some ZINGERS. And the great thing about the vibe of this song is that it kinda permeates the rest of the album and kinda sets the tone for it in a way - even the uptempo cuts. L'Ère du Verseau does a great job of balancing joy and sadness in a way that the album doesn’t feel like it’s being pulled in 2 completely different directions from track to track. It’s a reason why I think it was smart to not include the 2016 - 2018 non album cuts "Ici & Maintenant (Here & Now)", "Interpassion" and “"OMG!!!" as part of the main album tracklist, as the vibes are so different and would not have the tone of L'Ère du Verseau. Although I do think “Romeo” would have fit in pretty perfectly. But for the sake of being diplomatic and not playing favourites, I also get why even if Yelle thought ‘Hey, this actually does fit’ that they chose to include it as a bonus cut along with the others.

Album review: Yelle - L'Ère du Verseau | Random J Pop

L'Ère du Verseau may not feature a lot of loud and brash songs that their previous albums had, or "Ici & Maintenant (Here & Now)", "Interpassion" and “"OMG!!!", but it’s still unmistakably a Yelle album. It’s great to hear Yelle switch a few gears, and yet still deliver something which feels true to them and their brand. They are very sure of their sound and how to navigate it without ever feeling stuck or confined within it, because they keep moving the borders of it. And L'Ère du Verseau shows that Yelle aren’t afraid to keep venturing.

VERDICT: NINTENDO OUI

Highlights:
■ J’veux Un Chien
■ Je T’aime Encore 🏆
■ Karaté 🔥
■ Menu Du Jour
■ Peine De Mort 🔥

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