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August 14, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Barbagallo impresses with folksy French album

Danse dans les ailleurs

Julien Barbagallo

When most people hear the name Julien Barbagallo, it would be no surprise if they recognize him as the drummer of Australian indie band Tame Impala. With smash hits like “The Less I Know The Better” and “Let It Happen,” it is clear that Tame Impala has rocketed to stardom in recent years. However, what most people don’t know is that Barbagallo has been working on his own solo project since 2015 while touring with the Aussie rockers. His third LP “Danse dans les ailleurs,” which translates to “Dance in the elsewhere,” is written entirely in French like his previous two albums. However, Barbagallo stands out in this record by putting his own folksy twist on musical elements usually present in Tame Impala’s sound and shares his exquisite gift of storytelling through his mesmerizing lyrics.

Throughout this record, Barbagallo combines the electronic and psychedelic elements commonly associated with Tame Impala. He also adds his own powerful instrumentals and a versatile vocal range. Songs like “Longtemps possible” and “Les mains lentes” showcase Barbagallo’s voice and use soft and melodic piano and guitars to create songs that would most likely be heard at a local coffeehouse. In tracks later in the album, Barbagallo opts for a more upbeat approach. Songs like “L’offrande” and “Les grandes visions” use groovy bass riffs and constant tempo changes to emphasize Barbagallo’s strong melodies and instrumental beats.

The opening track, “L’échappée,” instantly showcases Barbagallo’s soothing voice while incorporating mellow acoustic guitars, simple drum beats and intricate bass riffs. His elegant use of lyrical artistry is also present; he is able to describe a story of lost love and yearning for forgiveness in a comforting way, with lines that translate to “Through the most beautiful spaces/ I saw the most beautiful things/ And my ugliest depths/ But without anyone near me”.

The most impressive aspect of this album is the lyrics. Although they may be impossible for non-French speakers to understand, Barbagallo singing in his native language is intriguing. He ties each track together into an appealing and alluring work of art.

However, Barbagallo’s choice to write the lyrics entirely in French may also draw major criticism from his non-French speaking listeners. Though this direction makes his longtime fans focus more on his use of different instruments and melodies throughout the record, other listeners who are looking for a new album may turn away because of the language barrier.

“Danse dans les ailleurs” shows that Barbagallo is more than just a drummer for a popular indie band. With versatile vocals and an impressive use of instrumentals throughout, this LP is able to keep longtime fans pleased. If the language barrier is ignored, or if time is taken to translate and understand the lyrics, it has something to offer newer fans as well.