Swiss-born, Paris-dwelling pop artist, Vendredi sur Mer's debut, Premiers Émois, is as expansive, warm, and unrestrained as the ocean she takes her name from.
Vendredi sur Mer
Profil de Face
22 March 2019
Referring to Vendredi sur Mer strictly as a singer fails to do justice to her way with language. Her name means "Friday at Sea", a situation most people would agree sounds lovely, though some may fear what lies in the depths. According to Charline Mignot, who hails from Switzerland, the name provides her persona with a story. A prior interest in photography taught Mignot the importance of capturing stories in a single medium, be it a picture or an MP3 file. Within the first lyric of Premiers Émois, she confides, "J'aimerais que le temps s'arrête / Pour qu'il reste avec moi" ("I wish that the time stops / So that it stays with me").
To immortalize such moments on her debut, Mignot utilizes a sensual whisper that soon emerges as her trademark delivery. Her breathy, languid intonation sets the stage for the album, with opening track "J'aimerais" featuring little to no singing, though it does showcase some sensual exhalations which are as impactful as any melisma or belt. Like K-pop girl group After School, Mignot uses "ah's" and breaths to personify her songs and imbue them with passion.
Infused with elements of nu-disco and synthpop in the vein of Bag Raiders (standout "Larme à Gauche" sounds poised to be mashed up with "Shooting Stars"), the album engulfs you in ambient synths, rolling basslines, and Mignot's commanding whisper. She draws upon the Gainsbourgs, both Serge and Charlotte, for her detailed lyricisms while her sound falls somewhere between the coldwave of La Femme and the playful fun of Lewis OfMan (also one of the album's primary producers).
Premiers Émois really shines as the songs develop. The flute of "Écoute Chérie" enters with only a few quick little trills in the chorus to eventually return for some more languid, longer-held notes. A digital bloop that joins the first chorus of "Encore" comes back stronger and catchier as the song and album, close. The combination of song progression coupled with Mignot's beguiling voice offers something cinematic in terms of scope. "Évidemment que de te regarder / Ca me fait souvent chavirer" translates to "Of course, to look at you / It makes me often capsize", hinting at the turbulence beneath Mignot's cool exterior.
Mignot as a narrator succeeds when giving the details in her soothing murmur, although singing sometimes proves a problem. Her stuttered delivery of "Mon Chagrin's" titular phrase stumbles over the disco smoothness beneath her. Though the song is enjoyable, "Je T'aime Trop Tôt" reaches for a few notes which feel just out of her range. When she does it right, either wide-eyed and eager on "L'histoire Sans Fin" or controlled and low with "La Nuit", Mignot finds her footing. For the higher notes, leave it to the aforementioned flute.
"Je veux encore / Toujours plut fort" ("I want more / Always stronger") Mignot coos on "Encore", the finale, and lucky listeners actually receive this opportunity. Spotify provides an additional four bonus tracks, and "La Lune est L'autre" and "L'amour avec Toi" both deserve main slots on the album. The simplicity of streaming, however, means listeners may enjoy them as such. Premiers Émois arrives just in time for the spring months, where the cold of winter evaporates to be replaced by the lush longing for summer. If you pine for leisure, warmth, and a bit of drama to keep things interesting, perhaps consider spending your Friday at sea.