Following up on the highly acclaimed album ‘Le génie humain’ – “an exquisite and subtle album” (Mojo), French band Orwell return with another slice of baroque orchestral pop:
“Inspired by Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s novel ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ the French mastermind of Orwell, Jérôme Didelot provides with “Continental” a kind of concept album. These inspirations frame his – in his words – ‘classic pop’ that reveals a complex multi-layered sunshiny, light and politely unobtrusive pop piece. The band uses the whole variety of musical instruments to underline the atmospheric context, ranging from gentle electro pop breezes, Stylophone, rhythm boxes, xylophones and experiments with vague noises. But the art of Didelot’s pop lies in his unobtrusiveness. You don’t need to know his contextual and musical influences. You can just sit back and enjoy it.
The title track “Continental” fittingly hails from the European music scenes, borrowing its drive from the German electro scene, its melodious instrumentation from British guitar pop and its lightness only can be associated with 60s French pop. Also songs like “On This Brightful Day”, “Always” and especially the outstanding “A long way to the start” stand for the sweet and light side of life, shifting the listener deeper and deeper into their addiction. “Anytime” also could have been written for or by Phoenix and shows why contemporary French pop only might work in a genuine state of sunshine and happiness. It is a bit too weirdly cheerful, oscillating between gentle dance-pop and the mania of Bowie’s Space Oddity.
Although the album also contains quite a bunch of fillers that won’t bother the listener as they are too unremarkable in their inoffensiveness, the last song “Everytime The World Is Too Loud” makes you want to press the repeat button. Not only because you want to listen to the addictive first song again, or because you want to unveil more layers of Didelot’s creations. Mostly because “Continental” shows you the light and sweet sight of life. And let’s be honest, we all are attracted by this image. I might go and book my holidays in France. See you all there!”
- Wolfgang Gunther, Tasty Fanzine
“…melodic classic pop influenced by Eno, Krautrock and 80’s (1984 even?) influenced productions that are both enigmatic and cinematic at once.
The album starts with the title track Continental and is at once optimistic, spacey and fresh whilst Didelot sings in English, German and French. Musically it is Kraftwerk meets Howard Jones having a white wine spritzer with Nik Kershaw. Lonely Ride sounds like a journey and is also a song that I would listen to again. A wonderful production that tastefully uses both melodica and stylophone, with arrangements and embellishments that recall early solo McCartney and traces of fellow Frenchmen Air.” 4/5
- Captain Dhilin Kunderan, The Music Critic
“Orwell is essentially the brainchild of French artist and multi instrumentalist Jérôme Didelot (I seem to review a lot of French bands for some reason…) The ideas for this album were apparently inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s epic novel of family destiny One Hundred Years of Solitude – which I haven’t read, although the missus has and she said it was amazing.
The title is perfect and aptly describes the feel of the album – there’s a breezy nonchalance to the almost casual way in which some classic sounding pop is effortlessly fashioned. The title track opens the set and launches into electronic pulses and lush orchestral instrumentation which combine to form a joyous, carefree romp of a track.
‘On This Brightful Day’ is the perfect soundtrack for driving through the year’s first day of fine Spring weather – my spell checker doesn’t like ‘Brightful’ though – I think they’ve either made that up or maybe something was just lost in translation but either way its an apposite term for the song.
Most of the vocals are sung in English which ensures accessibility and the themes of family trials and tribulations continue on tracks like ‘The Wife, The Battlefield’ (intriguing title) and the smouldering ‘Follow Me, Boy’. Somewhat inexplicably ‘Always’ starts off with a stylophone playing the tune of that annoying noise you sometimes get through the radio when a mobile phone in the vicinity receives an incoming text message. Thankfully it then thrums into glorious life to become the undoubted highlight of the album.
We’re treated to several more slices of cerebrally agile pop before Didelot signs off with the enchanting ‘Everytime the World Is Too Loud’ to close a delicious treat of an album. This is Orwell’s third album, and it’s slightly perplexing that bands like this don’t get more exposure in this country as I’m sure it would appeal to many people who love intelligent classic pop.”
- Steve Claire, Vanguard Online
“I’m surprised at myself for not having picked up on this excellent band earlier, which is centred around songwriter Jerôme Didelot and whose sound reminds me of Alessi, Phoenix, Air and Etienne Daho mixed with a spot of Field Music. “Continental” is their fourth album and on the strength of this fine thirteen-song set, I’m wondering how they’ve not soundtracked at least a few people’s journeys to work or jogs through the park.
It’s mostly breezy summery-pop with a little dink of melancholia here and there, smothered with catchy little choruses that are so creamy, they could be bottled as Gold Top. Put it this way – stick this on near those Cravendale cows and they might just start a bovine riot with excitement.
The first 5 tracks pretty much sum up Orwell and the last 8 occupy a braver new world, without going all weird on us. If you don’t at least get goose-pimply arms while listening to “On This Brightful Day” or a comforting glow from “The Wife, The Battlefield”, then you may as well go back to your Children Of Bodom or Jessie J album and eat baked-beans from a bucket.
Tweeness does rear it’s not-always-ugly head in places, especially on “Them” and “A Long Way To The Start”, but this is no bad thing since Didelot and his lyrical partner Julien Lonchamp have thrown in all manner of synth sounds from across the decades, including Theremin-type squiggles, bags of ARP-Strings and a lo-fi drum-machines. It all works a treat…this is an album that demands repeated listens and sharing with a picnic hamper and a crate of French booze. Winner.”
- Paul Pledger, AllGigs
“The stick that is often used to beat contemporary musicians who write classic pop songs is that they are somehow backward-looking, pining for a long-vanished golden age. With Continental, however, Jérôme has made himself immune to such attacks once and for all. For while this is music that has all the qualities associated with the golden age of pop, unmistakeably its heart and soul is very much engaged with the present – and the future . . .”
“…acoustic folk but with the pop twist that makes it something special to listen to.” 4/5
- Mikey Rush – southsonic.com
More here: folkwit.com/artists/orwell
released 11 April 2011