PAMPLEMOUSSE - Pamplemousse

Pamplemousse - Pamplemousse

9 songs
41:12 minutes
***** ***
À Tant Rêver Du Roi

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What does it feel like living in paradise? Maybe we should ask Pamplemousse, a trio from Réunion, a small island – about the size of Luxembourg – in the Indian Ocean, not even two hundred kilometres east of Mauritius. It’s also a French territory, with a really warm climate and heavenly beaches. Pamplemousse pride themselves in not playing zouk, sega or maloya, the folkloristic music genres popular in their region, but rather see themselves as a hybrid between RL Burnside, Unsane and George Michael. While the latter is certainly intended as a joke, it is true that Pamplemousse’s sound comes across as abrasive noise rock from the early Nineties and a very garagy blues sound. The simple and direct production of the album helps to imagine the three short-haired musicians (with this kind of heat, long hair is really not advisable!) playing their wild and furious tunes in a sweat-drenched club.

The album is very listenable through and through, but some tracks really stand out as a class of their own. Let’s start with the opener, unoriginally titled First, which is basically a straight-in-your-face noise rocker, but surprises with a really catchy chorus that comes with an unusual vocal line. As a matter of fact, everything is distorted here, also the vocals, but not in a metal way, but rather with a Sixties garage flair that reminds a little of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The following Zoo Circus is another highlight that shows the trio excelling at more concise lengths. The guitar is played really excellently, while I would have liked the bass guitar a little more prominent in the overall mix. The middle of the album is graced with Suffocating, at eight and a half minutes the longest track on the album. This is a more experimental piece that reminds me of the hypnotic music Jello Biafra once recorded with Tumor Circus. Strange vocal effects give this song a really chilly atmosphere. My personal highlight comes rather late in the album though. A song has never had a less fitting title than I Hate This Song, at six minutes not a short piece, but amazing from beginning to end. It is here where the band unpacks its catchiest moments, the chorus is one for the ages, and the musicians playing around with quiet/loud dynamics add even more tension to this brutal yet melodic masterpiece. There are strong parallels to late Eighties Sonic Youth, but Pamplemousse are so great here that one can’t really accuse them of having copied something.

This self-titled album is a nice surprise. One usually doesn’t expect music from faraway places like Réunion. A sign that these two men and one woman are not lazy is shown by the fact that they recently toured with Unsane on continental France. How they must have shivered under our Western European temperatures. But listening to the nine bluesy noise rock songs on Pamplemousse will definitely heat you up again.

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