“The flesh is sad, alas! and I have read all the books,” Stéphane Mallarmé once wrote. So why not transform this sadness into “nursery rhymes for adults,” Pierre Lapointe perhaps thought, and with the album Pour déjouer l’ennui, released in October 2019, he completed the triptych begun in 2017 with the superb collection La science du cœur.
Listening again to this now-matured album, which is sprinkled with confessions and whose author’s sexual orientation is not only assumed but stated outright (we’re talking about it because it’s part of the artistic process, see the video for “Le monarque des Indes”), we think that Lapointe is far from being the young man who used to wrap himself in attitude on stage, to hide his shyness.
It was at the beginning of this millennium when he presented his first batch of songs to journalists, on which the tune “Pointant le Nord”, reminiscent of Jacques Brel, appeared. A prelude to work that would find its place in the history of beautiful French chanson, unstoppable from that point forward.
Cementing the point, on this latest album, Lapointe collaborated with the French duo Albin de la Simone (producer) and Clara Luciani (a duet on “Qu’est-ce qu’on y peut?”, reminiscent of Françoise Hardy), as well as some of Quebec’s finest musicians: the veteran Daniel Bélanger, the underappreciated Philippe B, the whimsical young wolf Hubert Lenoir, the award-winning and prolific Félix Dyotte (Chinatown, Monia Chokri, Évelyne Brochu) and others.
Stripped down orchestrally, imbued with carnal vulnerability and wrapped in a catchy melodic sweetness, Pour déjouer l’ennui remains a work strongly marked by a singular, timeless and, paradoxically, avant-garde personality, in the manner of Barbara, for example.
This album, although it takes us back to the sources, leaves plenty of room for concrete lyrics rather than the surrealist juxtapositions Lapointe used to indulge, even recently, and so much the better.
In short, a tasty set of “comfort songs”, as the French may one day say.