FOXTROTT - A Taller Us - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

FOXTROTT - A Taller Us

by Justin Pearson Rating:7 Release Date:2015-11-27

Canada's Marie-Helene Delorme makes clean, bassy, synth-heavy music as FOXTROTT on debut album A Taller Us. It's a tight collection of songs that's personal, emotional and entirely relatable, all wrapped up in a blanket of luxuriant, thick electronica that borders on seriously addictive. It's music you can either dance to or chill to, not too unlike the way Norwegian artist Farao managed with the recent Till It's All Forgotten. Have a listen to the bright, clappy 'Mountains Rose High' and you'll see what I mean.

This is a precise, ordered album that still manages to sound open, embracing both rigid pattern and a focused, wide-eyed clarity. Every beat here sounds deliberate, providing the needed propulsion for songs that are never stalled, but constantly moving.

Delorme's front-and-centered voice holds a sturdy presence throughout without distracting from the song's structures. She sings on point, her good sense of vocal timing hand in hand with the sometimes snaky rhythms.  A perfect example of this is 'Colours.' Her vocals seem like an instrument itself that plays along with the druggy, dirty funk vibe. The tinny percussion is a light topping that's perfect for the sedateness of the song.

In an interview with upfrontNY she describes the album as "...a collection of songs from my early twenties, exploring very personal themes. Letting go of fears, doubts, experiencing life as a young adult. Facing difficulties, joys, all sorts of emotions that inspired those songs." With these kind of familiar themes, the songs are easy to digest after just one or two listens.

'Shields' feels like it's in a state of flux, pouring forth a lava flow of synths that run/sprint after Delorme's vocals, boasting one of the catchiest choruses of the year: "There's a heat that runs across the shields/ The noise got louder when I chose to feel."

'Untake Me' aims at you right off the bat with its gun-shot percussion like large raindrops that pelt down from an angry sky. It's the ideal setting for the weather metaphor of the lyrics: "If there has to be a storm/ Why can't you just let it pour?/ I dare you/ I beg you..."

Delorme is also highly skilled at matching content with construct. 'Driven' is subject to a firm, elastic beat that bounces back and forth while picking up momentum, kind of like a forward dance or sped up waltz that gives even more voice to the plain-stated lyrics: "Maybe I'm also driven by a call that has its reason/ A soul that needs a plan for getting by." 'Gated' feels closed off and muted, much like the song's theme. 'Patience' mirrors its namesake, with frantic synths that build over an anxious drum beat, accurately representing the agony of waiting.

But the best representation of this kind of pairing is the lumbering, hulking beast 'Shaky Hands.' It's anthemic and empowering, the horns building and lifting the song up through the heavy, sticky muck of the dysfunctional relationship that Delorme alluded to in an All Access Music interview: "Shaky Hands is an expression of feeling stuck in a relationship that’s bad for you. When you try to make sense out of things but the communication is bad and you just want everything to explode. But you’re still at the point where you have a hard time letting go completely." Even without the lyrics and this quote, you can hear it simply in the music.

A Taller Us avoids the mess of new artists trying to hone their sound. While it doesn't quite have all the lift necessary for the stratosphere, it surely has enough poise to launch FOXTROTT into the realm of fresh, original female artists. It's a confident statement that's just bold enough to highlight Delorme's beat-making, vocal-swaggering strengths.

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