It’s sort of impossible not to think of the ‘80s the second Dondolo’s Dondolisme begins synthing and electrofunking out of your speakers.
But I say, let’s forego the endless comparison chart and enjoy what the 32-year-old behind Dondolo, Romain Guerret, has put on the table: a funky buffet of skippy trippy beats served with blasts and pulses of creative sonic shine and shimmer.
Oui, oui monsieur! This is the perfect album to hold a dance competition to. There is so much going on in each song that this music would surely inspire moves you never thought you could make. In fact, I just inspired myself, a Dondolo Dance Down is definitely going on the calendar for this summer.
Equal parts silly and serious, Dondolo skips back and forth from carefree to seductive groove, from nonsense to sense. The sugar rush of “J’ai Deux Amours” puts a smile on your face and don’t worry if you don’t understand French. All Guerret is saying over and over is “j’ai deux amours, élodie et lala. A l’une je fais l’amour, à l’autre gouzi-gouza” (Translation: I have two loves, Elodie and Lala. I make love with one, the other gouzi-gouza? No idea).
These songs are like exercises in creativity and put a smile on my face each time I heard them. “Fluffy Angel” is full of lovey dovey lyrics that compete with smashing, crashing drums. Amid a backdrop of shrill shrieks, a soft voice rings out, “my fluffy angel, I know you’re watching over me, I love the way you love me”. The lyrics are purposely fanciful, simultaneously mocking stupid love songs and making this one far more interesting by presenting some tongue-in-cheek passion with discordantly raucous music. Who says love has to be pretty and delicate? Fluffy angels in love know how to rock.
Don’t think the romance of the French language goes untapped, however. “Chanteur à Succès” is a mood maker for sure. It has an almost R&B vibe that trades bumps and grinds for beats and groove.
The sexy sounds continue during the spoken word style of “Zarte Melody”. Well, I should say, it sounds sexy anyway. Guerret’s deep and smooth vocals feel seductive when he’s saying, “quand hiver j’avais plus froid et quand été, j’avais moins chaud, en fait, j’ étais moins gros”, but that roughly translates to, “when it was winter I wasn’t as cold, when it was summer I wasn’t as hot, in fact, I was less fat”. Other lines include pointing out that he loves cats, trees and, of course, birds. Isn’t that romantic though?
It’s the difference between being hit on with the “what’s up baby” attitude and the more unique and comedic Seinfeld approach, “You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I can run really fast”.
Throwing something unexpected out there is far more creative than a false attempt at depth. The humour isn’t just woven into the lyrics either, it’s in the music as well. There are hilariously added backing vocals, you don’t need to understand what he’s saying; he takes one word and stretches or pulls it into a reverberating punch of sound that energizes the whole track.
Like little riddles, crafts or games, each song is built with a fun structure. And yes, fun structure might be an oxymoron, but so is everything about Dondolisme. In fact, it kind of sounds like an album made by aliens. This might be the greatest compliment of all.
This is one of those rare party albums that you’ll listen to on Sunday afternoons as well as Friday nights. Guerret’s playful approach combined with a real ear for catchy bouncy rhythms is what makes Dondolisme such a satisfying experience. Not quite a guilty pleasure, it’s indulgent in all the right ways.