It’s probably safe to say that your team were filled with just a little trepidation when it came to reviewing Fanny Bloom’s sophomore album “Pan,” the follow-up to 2012’s universally acclaimed “Apprentie guerrière.” Firstly, there was the small matter of the appearance with Montréal rappers Loud Lary Ajust, not to mention the album’s teaser “Piscine.”
Fanny Bloom, we are not worthy…
After just one spin it’s fairly obvious that with “Pan” Fanny Bloom has created is an irresistible pop album which can be divided into two distinct sides. Firstly there’s the dance-floor fillers; “Blanc,” with it’s deceptively simple piano solo, a few soothing bars of pan flute (which given the album’s title probably isn’t coincidence), before erupting into a glorious chorus of multi-tracked vocals, percussion and keys… The Europop infused “Danse,” resplendent with tell-tale synths and beats which leads neatly to the pop sensation of the Québec summer that was “Piscine.”
However, it’s after “Évidemment” – another upbeat number, resplendent with synths, bright brass, percussion and a plinking piano keyboard that the album has a complete change of mood.
“Sammy, Sammy” sees a welcome reappearance of the pan flute before giving way to piano and guitar as Fanny launches into a heartfelt and powerful ballad, complete with yet another seemingly effortless and immediately catchy chorus and filled with bittersweet refrains. From the few interviews I’ve read, this is an incredibly personal song (apparently named after an ex) and you can sense the emotion in the voice. Just as “Blanc” sets the pace for the first part of the album so this song sets the tone for the second part.
“Mélodie” is for the most part a simple two piece composition of voice and piano; the song’s gentle melody is incredibly relaxing (helped, it has to be said, by the hypnotic – at times child-like – quality of Fanny’s ravishing vocals). “Dead birds” and “Il faudra” (the former an unreleased La Patère Rose demo) both fit seamlessly with the structure of this album’s more tranquil and trance-like side. And while “Pan” threatens to disturb the tranquility with it’s heavily distorted guitar and pounding drums, the soothing pan flute again ensures the tranquillity isn’t disturbed. The album’s closer, “Mémo” is yet another beautifully moving two-piece – a simple piano accompaniment to the most bewitching of vocals, the sound of running water and birdsong add to the air of absolute calm… Indeed it’s this album’s slower numbers that force you to reflect upon the quality of Fanny Bloom’s song-writing and composing skills (the singing part of this holy trinity goes without saying).
However, this album’s crowning moment has to be “Drama queens” – named after the posthumously published novel by Vickie Gendreau (who tragically died of a brain tumour aged just 24), it’s a dark and deeply moving masterpiece and one which I can’t even begin to find the words that would do justice to the sheer majesty of this song.
With “Pan” Fanny has crafted an unashamed pop album that amply demonstrates that she is more than capable of turning her hand to dance-floor fillers as she can heart moving and incredible personal ballads. In the process she’s provided us with as good a contemporary pop album as will be released in English or French this or any year.
This is nailed-on for a Year-list appearance