reviewed by Elysse Cloma
Once described as a “grizzled indie veteran,” experimental indie act Un Blonde aka Jean-Sebastien Audet is only 19 years old and has already played with countless indie acts in Calgary’s music scene. In 2014, Audet made the cross-country move from Calgary to Montreal with hope of finding new opportunities to create. Following the narrative being a young artist in need of new surroundings, Un Blonde is a fresh and rapidly emerging talent in the Montreal music scene. He has already garnered attention from media outlets such as Exclaim! and AUX TV as an “artist to watch”. With Water The Next Day being the first of a series of albums, Un Blonde’s draw comes from his artistry and seemingly boundless creativity. There’s no doubt that Un Blonde’s upcoming releases won’t go unnoticed.
Water The Next Day, released on Egg Paper Factory, is Un Blonde’s fourth release in the last year and a half. We find Un Blonde entering the Montreal scene as what appears to be an experimental R&B act, but this category is subject to his artistic license. With few months between each of his releases, Water The Next Day is already quite a departure from Sense of Self, Un Blonde’s first release from late 2014. His previous albums as Un Blonde are guitar-heavy, whereas Water The Next Day is completely electronic.
With tracks that have solid and conventional “boom-bap” hip hop beats, trap claps and 808s, Un Blonde’s interestingly layered vocals are a distinct feature on the album. Melodic synth riffs loop in the background on Un Blonde’s tracks. On “Look”, it sounds as though the synth is meant to mimic or respond to the lyrics being sung, creating a tension between the two. “Playing With Me” pushes our buttons, taking us into a percussive soundscape of throaty vocal performance layered in arpeggiating tones. The tune “True” has a weird funk groove bass line to ground an otherwise chaotic, busy, and dissonant track. And while the lyrics on Water The Next Day are difficult to discern, Un Blonde’s collage-like style of producing tracks has the overall effect of showing us cool new ways to experience sound without sacrificing rhythm.
On Water The Next Day, we’re unable to anticipate Un Blonde’s next move. His unconventional way of manipulating sound leaves us wanting more, and his distinct voice reminds us that we’re still tuned to his music.
Top Tracks: “True”; “Playing With Me”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)