Francois & the Atlas Mountains: Plaine Inondable

[8 November 2010]

By Matthew Fiander

PopMatters Associate Music Editor

Francois has spent years gathering friends around him—dubbed “the Atlas Mountains” no matter the group—to make music both on record and on stage. On Plaine Inondable, you can feel the band’s presence as a loose collective alongside Francois’ own wanderlust. These songs are dreamy and meandering, always lush and folky, always drifting in their paces. The many layers of sound here—the keys, guitars, strings, voices—sound somehow both intricate and direct, their combination rich in sound but immediate in their pop sensibilities. Sometimes these faint pop songs can surprise, as do the bouncy, childlike energy of “Be Water (Je Suis de L’eau)” and the warm horns that add heft to “Moitiee”. But in the end, it’s that heft that is missing from much of Plaine Inondable. As the songs build, they’re never quite tied down and some—particularly “Wonder” and “Pic-Nic”—get away from themselves. In fact, many songs hover between four and five minutes here, but few have the hooks to sustain all these lush layers for that long. There’s a lot of ambition built into Plaine Inondable, and the overall sound is a pleasant one, but the individual songs rarely rise above the others surrounding them.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/132670-francois-the-atlas-mountains-plaine-inondable/