Laetitia Sadier – SilencioPosted by Tarin Fasano
Stereolab star Laetitia Sadier has a voice with a flavor as particular as marzipan. Floral but never frilly, Sadier demonstrates restraint with style on her second solo album. It’s buttered austerity. Every so often the vocals become chalky with emotion, but never even threaten to come unhinged. Like Stereolab, Sadier carefully measures out all the right ingredients for progressive electro-pop. Silencio is an elegant confection, but too much of it could make you sleepy.
“The Rule of the Game” opens smooth and bouncy before Sadier’s voice slips through the air. Mid-song there are taut synth squiggles and the rhythm transitions into frantic head-bob/toe-tap territory. “Find Me the Pulse of the Universe” is breezy and clean. ”Moi Sans Zach” is very chill, with sultry French murmuring and generic smooth-listening instrumentals. “Silent Spot” is a dark blue serenity laced with somber nothings like “she was ready to withdraw” and “lead another existence.” Tones float upward but never away.
“Auscultation to the Nation” sounds good, though the lyrics earnestly flirt with banality. Auscultation (from the Latin auscultare, “to listen”) means listening to someone’s insides using a stethoscope or some variation on a stethoscope. This title is a double-whammy: both punny and utilizing an obscure word. Yet this wit cloaks trite lyrics. Sadier logically and rationally expresses her complaints with society and democracy and illegitimate governance. Fair, but “Auscultation to the Nation” is neither a fiery call to revolution nor a blues about mistreatment. It’s something to play somewhere sleek on a humid night. The vibe is pretty-girl-being-didactic-about-cocktail-fixings swirled with undeveloped-idealistic-fervor. The eventual digression into malfunction and fuzz is sonically interesting but not innovative.
There aren’t huge issues with Silencio but there’s nothing catchy or provocative, there’s no diversity. Photos look nice in sepia, but when you use the same filter every time your portfolio may be a little limp. Titles like “There is a Price to Pay for Freedom (and it isn’t Security)” are off-putting in how seriously they take themselves. Titles like ”Find Me the Pulse of the Universe,” “Between Heaven and Earth,” and “Lightening Thunderbolt” are cornily cosmic.
“Invitation au Silence” wraps things up with assorted shuffling, scrapings, and vague layered tracks of Sadier speaking in an echoey room. There are many moments on Silencio where it’s hard to tell if Sadier is singing in English or French, because of her unusual annunciation and seamless transitions between languages. It’s a subtle album, well produced and pleasant. Stereolab fans will definitely be pleased, but no ground has been broken.