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Benoit Pioulard – Lasted

By most accounts from the 24-hour news cycle, the economy and culture wars really have the world in a shitter right now, and the world shall remain there for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t get you pumped on life, for sure. And the news in our hyper-aware information ages makes you yearn for some comfort, in some way… but not by anything overly cheerful, as that can get obnoxious rather quickly. No, you want something soothing, understated, and escapist, and that’s sort of the feeling I relished in after piping in the latest from Michigan’s Thomas Meluch a.k.a. Benoit Pioulard after a particularly bummer day. It’s called Lasted, and it’s a profound endeavor.

There are a few characteristics that keep an album’s replay value high, and one of them is an ambiguous, malleable mood set. Lasted’s song structures (not to mention Pioulard’s almost baritone and smooth as silk vox stylings) retain a crestfallen, morose quality – but also a kind of visceral uplifting quality. All depends on context, providing one of many triumphs for Lasted. The melodic minor key, slowcore-informed “RTO” and title track “Lasted” provide the sound of staring at city lights through rain dropets on the window, while the vintage jangle and flourishing, ornate instrumentation of songs like “Shouting Distance” makes way for rays of sunshine to permeate through for simple, joyous moments. The inverse is also true for both examples.

As with his previous work, Precis and Temper, Pioluard sounds like a sort of benevolent being singing from inside a sort of chasm or cavern – deep, powerful hall-reverberated vocals over grainy, arboreal, abstracted moods, Anglo-folk instrumentation, and wistful, hauntological textures. This time around, however, Lasted‘s songs are more focused and mature, with rich melodies that remain subtle for particularly rewarding results. Warm, cascading ambient pieces are peppered throughout, cultivating a cohesive and mercurial body of work.

Lasted is a deeply emotional, sublime album. After a few listens, I came away from the experience (yes, that sounds wanky but whatever) with differing moods. And that, friends, is a rare consequence. I was affected, maaaan. No, but seriously, there is something, coming back ’round to where I start with these thoughts, extremely comforting within Lasted. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia-incuding vibe (sans any overt sentimentalism)¬†innate throughout all 14 experimental, 8mm-washed torch ballads.¬† It’s something intangible that is served no justice in trying to describe in words.

Benoit Pioulard’s Lasted is available right now, and it’s a motherfucker. Pick it up – one of the seaons’s finest releases. Another home run on Kranky’s scoreboard.

MP3 ::::
Benoit Pioulard – Shouting Distance
Benoit Pioulard – RTO

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