Published Jun 25, 2020The immersive music of singer-songwriter Klô Pelgag is like getting lost in fantastical worlds. Like fairy tales, the songs are innocent and dark, whimsical and real while also becoming more elaborate over time. Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs is the Montreal-based artist's third album and her most layered to date, continuing to evolve from the folksiness of her debut, L'alchimie des monstres.
The album doesn't follow a straightforward sonic path, but instead winds through multiple areas, the only consistent element being Pelgag's vocals. This is epitomized by the regal "Soleil," with grand instrumentation bordering on extravagant. It's placed alongside "Mélamine", a heavier electro-centred track that begins with a sound like a bored gurgling of the throat. Single "Umami" skips along playfully with whimsically rhyming lyrics, while "À l'ombre des cyprès" has a dramatized disco element, a combination of synths and violins that creates the aura of a digitized version of a magical kingdom. It's similar to "Où vas-tu quand tu dors?", with an electronic atmosphere that erupts into a cinematic finish.
There are also songs that are more intimate and melancholic. "J'aurai les cheveux longs" tugs at the chest with emotion, while "Für Élise" features gently ominous guitar and drum crashes combined with touches that are as dreamily delicate as grasshoppers on a summer lawn. The exception to all of this is "La Fonte," a simple piano-backed track with romanticized French vocals.
Klô Pelgag's songs aren't just a display of language in the literary sense (with lyrics that read like poetry) but the music generates landscape and emotion on its own, even without needing to understand the French lyrics. Regardless of a language barrier, Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs can still transport listeners into a universe whether they take in the literal meanings or not. (Secret City)