It was only a little more than two years ago when Mylène Farmer, France's biggest female singing star, released her previous album Point de Suture. Her latest live album recorded while her N°5 Tour is only a year old too and the brand new album of the mysterious diva feels like a rushed surprise. Her fans had never been treated that way : we were just used to patiently wait half a decade at least between each new studio album release and we welcomed each new CD with passion and devotion. This new one looks like a turning point :
1/ It comes too fast after the previous one.
2/ There's no trace of her all-time collaborator/producer/composer Laurent Boutonnat.
3/ It is the first time I find me (and I'm ashamed to say that!) "a little bored" while listening to this whole album !
Maybe rushing things weren't that good in the end...
The news invaded the net a couple of months ago, announcing a brand new single, Oui mais... non, produced by Lady Gaga's producer RedOne, and a new album Bleu Noir to follow just in time for Christmas sales. Then the song appeared and I was in heaven.
Composed by the international trendy producer, Oui mais... non is an electronic 90's inspired frenetic dance anthem where Mylène's voice and french lyrics are put in the front, with her vocals building up a wall of haunting backing vocals between the syncopated synthés and pulsating rhythm. Even if it takes a couple listen to get used to, while you've got its rhythm, you're caught forever, totally spellbound by the positive energy and fresh magic "Dis-moi oui mais non, ne dis plus jamais non..." Needless to say it shot straight at #1 in the french charts.
The remix package sees Mylène keep working with Tomer G but place her voice between the expert hands of frenchy Jeremy Hills, Klaas and finally Chew Fu, another Lady Gaga previous remixer. I don't really know if Stefani Germanotta's worldwide success and beautiful videos inticed Mylène to work harder to keep her place in the charts and fans' hearts but the fact is that after working with Lady Gaga's producer, she produced a Bad romance inspired video for Oui mais... non too. Truth is Mylène was the first european artist who released video clips like films a la Thriller back in the 80's (Libertine, Pourvu qu'elles soient douces, Tristana, Désenchantée...) and she's equally famous for her music as for her videos and image ...which seems to be what Lady Gaga is famous for too nowadays. I don't know if she knew Mylène's previous work and took inspiration from it, but she did say she like her new single RedOne did for our french star so I see Oui mais... non video as a payback hommage to Lady gaga's work too. But I do feel a little sad that in this new video, although she looks fabulous, gorgeous and sexy in her leather leggings in the middle of half naked dancers, Mylène doesn't take part in the choregraphy and only lays there lazily. She used to hit the screen with her dance routines !! But she's nearly 50 year old isn't it? OOops! She must do her best to make us forget that fact and like Kylie or Madonna, she must undergo different surgery treatments to look so young and beautiful (at least less botoxed than Kylie and a whole lot better than Maddie - but since the grandma of pop tends to look now like Pete Burns, it wasn't too hard...-)
I think I've said it all about the opening track of Bleu Noir and I promise I won't be longer for the whole rest of the album as there isn't that much more better things to say sadly...
Track #2 is one of the multiple songs Moby wrote and produced for her. Moi je veux... is a moody midtempo whose beat is reminiscent of 90's Soul II Soul beats and Unfinished sympathy, with a haunting piano. On the lyrics, Mylène sings about love and melancholy, like always. It is your usual Mylène Farmer type of album track. Repetitive and catchy in the end, it could even become a single.
The title track follows and the song is a little more lightful, with an anthemic chorus and harder guitars ; another potential single coming from the demos Moby sent Mylène and that made her want to record new songs after she finished her latest tour. The only problem maybe is that the words Bleu noir only appear in a verse, not in the chorus where the leading theme could be "la bataille est belle..."
N'aie plus d'amertume, another song by Moby / Mylène Farmer, sees her go back to her roots, on a dark midtempo, no surprise. And that is what may have let me down all the more. From how her first single sounded and knowing she hadn't worked with laurent Boutonnat anymore on this CD, I must have waited for something different, but whatever the producer/composer, Mylène stills writes the words she's singing, she's still leading the way and producing it all in the direction she's only been leading from the start : her own musical route.
Next song, Toi l'amour, another Moby guitar-led song, but more uptempo, with an uplifting melody but vocals maybe too laid back to make it as instant as it could have been. It speeds up the pace too for the next track, the other RedOne song of the album, Lonely Lisa. 90's inspired Electronica's back in the place from the intro to the end. I bet RedOne only wanted to give Mylène hitsingles : I especially like the pre-chorus' melody and the killer chorus, naturally. Beware though, the song is still sung in french. Like for Oui mais... non, there's a bit of talking bridge where Mylène leaves her usual high-pitched and breathy vocals for her raw, sometimes guttural speaking voice. Singles #2 in my book but that would make the other producers of the album jealous for sure if it were... so single #3? #4 at least !
M'effondre sees Moby sit back behind the desks in studio for a more symphonic sound, on this odd song that soon turns in circles and becomes repetitive though addictive with Mylène singing like a mantra the words "Jusque là, tout va, jusque là, tout va bien..." not meaningless words as we find her usual moto : everthing's fine ...yet.
The three following songs are composed by Darius Keeler and produced with the other half of UK band Archive, Danny Griffiths. Lyrics, like always, are courtesy of Miss Farmer herself, even the first one's, Light me up, all in english. Maybe it is because of their calm trip-hop sound, maybe it's because their three sleepy songs are stuck one after the others, but the first time I listened to the album in my sofa, attentive to the new Mylène Farmer that was in my ears, I fell asleep before the end... ! Thinking about it, I don't think it's because of the first part of the album, but because of the second part, where the mood is dark, slow, all on the melancholic ballad side of Farmer's world, and my feet and heart simply miss the beats.
Next one, Leila, sounds like a monotonous chant for the suicided girl she took inspiration from. Some critics says it's touching. I only feel it's boring... The third Archive song, Diabolique mon ange, is a little more uplifting, even though the music is still too monotonous. Mylène's usual morbid themed lyrics save it and show off her fear of time passing by.
Closing track is the last Moby offering, first displayed in its original english form, then adapted with french lyrics in a shorter version. Inseparables (or Inséparables) is another calm melancholic ballad Moby must have written especially for Mylène. He duetted twice with her before (on her adaptation of his 2006 single Sleeping away (Crier la vie) and then on Looking for my name on her 2008 album) so he must know her a little bit now at last. But I feel both versions put so close after Archive's three tracks is more that I can bear ...awake. It is a shame 'cos maybe I would have felt different if these 5 tracks have been dispatched in between the other Moby songs and the RedOne fantastic ones. Well, I must admit, I would have prefered there had been more RedOne songs. A lot more ! And what is it with CDs nowadays that have 10/11 tracks only ? I still feel betrayed when buying one album like this and not liking 90% of it...
And finally, WHAT THE HELL WITH THE COVER ARTWORK ???!!!!
The man in charge (Henry Neu from the sleeves notes) must be fired straight away !
Don't you think ?
I think I would've done better, only with Paintbrush and Windows' usual fonts.
I won't end this review on this bitter note though.
Two more songs would have been perfect for inclusion on this CD. Mylène has just been featured on two new recordings and they are brilliant !
First one is her duet with Ben harper on INXS new album Original Sin that sees INXS back up different international singers for new interpretations of INXS hits.
Their take on Never tear us apart is fabulous. Not only do Mylène's french lyrics suit the song nicely but her voice melt perfectly with Ben Harper's and Never tear us apart has always been one of my INXS prefered songs...
The other one is another duet she wrote and sang with one of France's most beloved old artist, Line Renaud, whose involvement against AIDS has taken a major role in her life, more important than music or acting. She hadn't recorded a full album since several decades and France's Who's who of songwriters wanted to take part. Mylène got the final track and C'est pas l'heure is our usual Mylène uptempo track. I wish she could have included a solo version on her own album as a bonus... If only she would do this on a re-release (but she has never done that!) I swear I'd buy Bleu Noir once more just for that track.