And now to be added to the pantheon of “wow” and “what the fuck was that?” comes “Forêt”, the eponymous-titled debut album from the Montreal based duo of classically trained vocalist Émilie Laforest and musician / composer Joseph Marchand.
Similar to their Montreal-based compatriots Groenland and Hôtel Morphée, the duo have drawn back to a disparate past to put their stamp on the future. In the duo’s case they’ve distilled the complex atmospheric of acclaimed indie label 4AD stablemates The Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, and mixed with the dark psychedelia of Portishead’s “Third”. The addition of Spanish guitar and subtle reverb weaves a surrealistic yet always edgy aural landscape.
Even upon a cursory first listen it’s immediately obvious that there’s a huge amount of love and attention been showered on this immaculately crafted album; Marchand’s flowing arrangements perfectly balance with LaForest’s haunting vocals, bringing life to award-winning Quebec-based poet Kim Doré’s atmospheric lyrics.
The is perfectly balanced album, at times complex, at others, the very model of simplicity – slower numbers such as the ghostly “Je tombe avec la pluie” and the balladesque “Après la guerre” neatly complement “Le verbe amour” and “Corps maquillés”, where that aforementioned reverb hints at that slightly darker undercurrent that’s always present.
I mentioned a passing similarity to the early days of 4AD. Listening to this album, there’s a growing case to compare this album favourably with that label’s “super group” This Mortal Coil’s seminal album “It’ll End in Tears“.
High praise? Maybe… But trust me, this is a stunning debut album and it might well be that good…