Coming in at less than a year since their last release, and barely two since Montreal’s Bronswick formed, the so-called unlikely duo of Catherine Coutu and Bertrand Pouyet are back with a follow-up EP to their debut success. But don’t let that short timeline deceive you, since neither Coutu nor Pouyet are novices at this game.
While Coutu may be a lifer when it comes to keys and vocals, Pouyet brings along an impressive decade of production, acting as DJ for a number of hip hop and electro outfits in France before swapping all that in for the haunting synth rock of his Canadian output, united with Coutu by a common love of francophone music. Chassés-Croisés, due out February 12, is another five-song EP for the pair, though it’s trailing, dreamy notes belie the weaving, wandering pacing that turns a short playlist into a long listen.
Opener “Comme la mer” eases into it all, a gentle hum joined by an echoing rap before Coutu’s vocals burst in, building the song up with them and letting it settle back down as the instrumental riff plays into the solitude. But it’s on “Un Degrés de Séparation” that Chassés-Croisés takes off, looping and layering in an eclectic, almost spatial, giving a more ethereal quality to Coutu’s voice as she croons overtop.
But despite its adventurous tone, Bronswick’s second EP is a somber affair. Pouyet’s dark baritone on “Trouble” before Coutu’s heartbroken rejoinder in the chorus is the first overt indication, reminding you of the rage in “Comme la mer,” where Coutu’s sensual voice masked the threat,“Comme la mer qui brise le sol, ma colère reprendra forme.”
Still, at first glance Chassés-Croisés is a playful, swaying blend that invites you to drift along with Coutu’s stilted, breathy verses—at least until “Trouble” jolts you into the realization that there’s a darkness under all that beauty, all the more sharp because of its delicate casing.
Top Track: “Trouble”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)