Everyone’s favourite pervy French lounge lizard Sébastien Tellier is back, with an album that makes me question his intentions. There’s always been a sense of playfulness within his ouevre, a nod to his many influences, whether Serge Gainsbourg or Kraftwerk, but Domesticated errs so much on the side of parody, it’s grating.
Whither the beauty of La Ritournelle, Look, or his bizarre, too-good-for-Eurovision Divine? This album makes you long for those days again. Tellier possesess a beautiful, androgynous singing voice, and a wonderful way with slinky string arrangements. Here, the production overwhelms the songs, to the point of distraction.
Take Venezia and Hazy Feelings, with their 80s monster funk grooves. It’s perfect summer music, until Tellier brings in the dreaded vocoder. It’s as if he can’t trust the songs without steeping them in that dreaded autotune vocal treatment.
Stuck In A Summer Love has a layered, Air airiness, a lightness of touch with keyboards that seem to float like friendly spectres. Then, vocoder abuse rears its ugly head again. So it goes for the whole alum.
A Ballet even has a whiff of George Michael’s Careless Whisper, the chicken in a basket, “hello ladies”, Porsche and espadrilles faux-seductive package holiday abomination. Tellier mines the worst aspects of the 80s – the tacky commercialism and gloss – without finesse.
It’s almost an act of cultural vandalism, like rollerskating into the Louvre, defacing all the art with magic markers and declaring it some kind of postmodern statement. Let’s chalk it down to isolation madness and hope it’s a temporary blip.
C’est dommage.