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Julie Doiron 

Desormais (Jagjaguwar)

Singer Julie Doiron's first band, Eric's Trip, was New Brunswick's bid for indie cred in the early '90s. Her pigsqueals in "Blinded" on the band's 1993 debut, Love Tara, were perhaps the decade's flashpoint as far as aroused indie rock goes. It took no great stretch of the imagination to picture Doiron one day making an album like Desormais, which she sings entirely in French. Hailing from French Canada, she's no stranger to the lingo, and she handles the transition effortlessly. A subdued affair for the most part, Desormais features skeletal songs and sounds like a French version of Cat Power. Perhaps an even better comparison would be Nico during her Blue Angel cocktail-singer phase.

On Desormais, rippling Velvets effects adorn "La Jeune Amoureuse," while "Tu Es Malades" plinks along like a cut from Nico's Chelsea Girls; it's even replete with a somber Cale-sounding drone at the end. Meanwhile, the burbles and flutters in "Pour Toujours" suggest Stereolab on an amyl nitrate high. But while Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier sings in a weird mix of English, French, and otherworldly emissions, Doiron emits the tongue de l'amour only. Horns and other exotic effects decorate "Pour Toujours," while on "Penses-Donc (Tu Es Seule)," Doiron attempts an a cappella lullaby. The word "chanteuse" has been bandied about in reference to just about every indie diva of the last few years, from Barbara Manning to Cat Power. Doiron's the first to truly own up to the word. This album is like a French kiss after a mouthful of Bordeaux, and Doiron is a kind of Sylvie Vartan for the New Millennium.

More by Joe S. Harrington

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