3 out of 5
Label: Murailles Music, Object Disque
Produced by: Ernest Bergez (recording, mixing)
Appealingly weird art-rock.
Soleil Enculé – variously translated, for non-French speakers like m’self, in different semi-offensive ways, including “sun’s asshole,” is, at points, a gorgeously scattered work of Thinking Fellers-esque plucked guitar clatter and junk-percussion, blended with twee-gentle vocals and harmonies. It’s very possible that, in English, this would result in something too precious, and so my mono-lingual ignorance may pay off in that sense – Arltl’s fifth album is a wonderful mess.
The opening, jazzy tip-toe of Frère Et Sœur eases its way into buzzing distortion and emotive drumming, dreamlike male / female vocals from our two main members – Eloïse Decazes and “Sing Sing” – crafting an otherworldly sensibility – both soothing and unnerving. There’s the sing-songy pop of the brief Les Commencements, and then things kind of peak with the discordant and broken and noisy L’Instant Même. Thereafter, Soleil Enculé settles in to a more consistently fuzzy, approachable style, though kept interesting with the generally loose playing style, and spotted jazz affectations. Because Arlt favors off-key tunings, it’s not an album that can be ignored – it’s always just on the verge of sounding wrong, but is then successfully hemmed in by a recognizable, shambling riff, or the confidently crooned singing – however, those opening three tracks, as juxtaposed against each other, are definitely more arresting than what follows, almost as though being that weird takes a lot out of the band, and then they have to chill out a bit afterwards. Arlt saves up some final whimsy for the closing title track, though, which ditches the strange for something more touching and direct, even if the title (and lyrics) might be profane.