Published Aug 28, 2020There is a distinctive style that circulates the work of Jonathan Personne. Known as the frontman of Montreal's Corridor, his music is submerged in an '80s pop punk gloominess with echoing vocals and luscious melancholy. Disparitions, Personne's second solo album, follows in the same vein but with enough variation and textures that the listener is taken on a journey.
"Springsteen," the lead single, has a toe-tapping ambience mixed with the general lo-fi sound. It's an exploration into emotions felt while on tour: missing home, and the mixed feelings of reluctance that can come with continuous time on the road. It's followed by "Dernier train," a laid-back '70s rock vibe with a sun-soaked instrumental passage at the end. Nature sounds are incorporated, those reminiscent of birds chirping in flocks, making the overall atmosphere freeing and positive.
The brightness of the instrumentation and the dark moodiness of the vocals is a juxtaposition that makes Disparitions intriguing. "Dans la chambre" is like hazy light or a soft breeze seeping through an open window, while "Signs de vie" is calming and atmospheric. The title track is sparse and whimsical, impatient strumming combined with wandering electric guitar and touches of violin. It's like being alone in the countryside or wilderness, hills and mountains in view, while Personne's vocals enforce that haunting distance.
On the other hand, the opening track "Personne" consists of echoing distorted vocals and crashing guitars, which, put simply, are like noise and perhaps representative of chaos within the mind. The contrast, however, is felt most with "Grand soleil" and "Au final." The former is slow and melancholic, and there's a real rawness that brings out a rare sense of intimacy. Yet, when the latter begins, the listener is immediately returned to the classic-sounding guitars and distortion.
Closing track, "Evidemment," fittingly sums up the record. It's wistful and a little dramatic, with dark sonic undertones mixed with a hopefulness that's all predominantly led by sound. While all the songs are in French, there's a lack of clarity to the lyrics' projection that means even French speakers may have to listen carefully to understand.
Overall, there isn't anything unique about the Disparitions, especially in comparison to the rest of Jonathan Personne's work. Instead it's a taking of a variety of familiar elements of recent eras that connote a musical coolness and redelivering them in the context of Francophone music. (Michel)