Released May 26, 2015
By Joel Strauss
Melanie Brulée is a French Canadian solo-artist living in Toronto, Ontario. Her album Débridee (which translates to ‘Unbridled’ in English) is a major accomplishment in indie-pop sensibility, ambiance, and intricate guitar-work. The title is fitting; although the words will be lost on English-only speakers, there is clear sense of something unrestrained and untethered - a real authenticity to the music.
Some of the first things the listener will notice are a nice, polished production on the tracks, and a unique, quirky female voice, perhaps in the vein of The Zombies’ lead singer.
Most of the songs are sung completely in French, but if a person lets him or herself simply be immersed in the sound, the language barrier for English-only speakers is no hindrance, since the music provides so much in itself to appreciate. (If the listener feels compelled, however, to look up lyric and title translations, this will work to enhance the listening experience even more)
The first track, Obtus (translates to ‘Obtuse’) features a rich, psychedelic guitar sound playing in a smooth, Hawaiian feel on top of a laid-back beat. The guitar seems to echo and breathe in just the right places, giving life to the music. The creative, intricate guitar parts are a distinct feature of the album as a whole, giving each track an individual flavor and texture.
The song Astéroïde (‘Asteroid’ in English) starts out with a soft acoustic rhythm before a nice steady, kick comes in, and soon the listener is immersed in array of voices and harmonies, with a laser-like attack on the lead guitar. The steady build up of this song unleashes a great dynamic by the time the track finishes.
There is quite a bit of variety in mood and tone on this album. Some songs are energetic, others have a sexy, laid back feel, with almost a ‘midnight’ type effect, music you can slow-dance to. Indeed another key strength here is in the subtle ambient textures, revealing more secrets with each listen.
Another highlight is Merci (Thank you) featuring slide guitar in the background, and a rousing Chorus. A lovely ‘call-back’ part on the chorus in the final section puts just the right emphasis on the lyrical phrase, making the songs’ emotional quality resonate all the more.
‘Naked’ is one where the Chorus and a Bridge are sung in English, and on the chorus Brulée sings, "I’m tired of trying to be perfect. I want to be naked." This is a great lyric, one that suggests a desire to be free from the expectations and obligations of everyday living. Here, ‘to be naked’ means a yearning to have nothing preventing a person from being his or her own; to be free from any outside constraints, and it creates an instantly relatable track for the listener. We all know that feeling of having nothing less than perfection expected of us, and that universal understanding makes it comforting line to sing along to.
The closing track Huile sur toile (Oil on canvas) begins with an array of ‘Cathedral’ like voices that return again on the chorus, a fine ending to an album of melodic, honest sounding, smooth and distinctive styles. This is indeed a rare album that can be appreciated by speakers of any language.