6/29 KUMD Album Review: L'anarchiste

Jun 29, 2015

Hearing Giant, the latest album from L’anarchiste, is like watching a party from start to finish.  A solo horn, banjo, or synth pulse starts each track before seamless layering brings an eclectic array of instrumentation into the mix, like seeing guests slowly arrive to the party.  Each track then ends with the same solo instrument, alone again, but well-rounded in result.

Musically L’anarchiste falls along the lines of Mutual Benefit, with the vocal delivery running parallel to M83.  String and horn arrangements permeate through simplistic melodies that are further highlighted by stomping yet minimalist percussion.  “Shaker,” the album opener, starts with an accordion loop and is joined by sunny-sounding guitar.  Breathy, almost whispered vocals hover along the melodies, occasionally interrupted by a Beirut-esque hornline or a jagged guitar-solo.  Despite all these variables in play, Giant never sounds cacophonous.  The five-piece L’anarchiste blends and fades the variety together for maximum effect, attributing to a very level listening experience.

Take for example the lead single, “Samundar,” which opens with rippling synths that fade perfectly into a banjo led string arrangement.  To repeat, banjos and synths are together on the single, and it works.  Giant might not sound the best on paper, but it’s good in the ears.  

Another standout includes “And It Goes,” which co-opts the infectious, pulse-driven nature of M83’s “Midnight City” before building into acoustic-driven affair with shimmering, effected guitar thrown in for good measure.

Perhaps detrimentally, L’anarchiste employs vocals for almost instrumental purposes.  A handful of tracks feature soft vocals, smoothed into the periphery and hardly on the forefront.  By no means do vocals need to be the selling point, but it does take away clout from the lyrics, which often allude to rich, dense themes. However, when a more lyrically-driven track does appear on Giant, it has all the more resonance.  “Samundar,” “You Were A Saint,” and the title track all possess a palpable, emotional weight along the lines of Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell.

In its entirety, Giant demands a full listen through.  The choice in instrumentation is often creative and spontaneous, whereas the variables in each track are immaculately orchestrated.  A healthy hybrid of electronic and acoustic, L’anarchiste crafts a solid album.

RIYL: Mutual Benefit, Sufjan Stevens, M83
Tracks: “Samundar,” “You Were A Saint,” “And It Goes,” “Shaker,” “Giant”