Published Mar 26, 2020Presenting P'tit Belliveau: lover of Acadian folk music, wearer of faded crocs and officiant in the marriage between plucky banjo and cheesy synthesizer. A Moncton, NB-via-Bayside, NS man-boy who has played with a group called P'tit Belliveau et les Grosses Coques and whose tongue-in-cheek approach is epitomized in his debut record's title: Greatest Hits Vol. 1. A former construction worker who pursues music with DIY sensibilities and easygoing exuberance — the East coast's response to Mac DeMarco.
P'tit Belliveau's strange country-folk-electro world is certainly an inviting one. In the opening track of Greatest Hits Vol. 1, "Les bateaux dans la baie," hazy guitars and lazy drum machines mingle with finger-picked banjo while Belliveau sings about sitting in the sun, watching boats and feeling like everything is okay. The album is full of these simple moments, with P'tit Belliveau playing the role of laidback everyman, ready to drop some cash at Walmart, drive to the lake and drink a few beers.
What is fascinating about these tracks is the way they can live between worlds: between English and French, between Acadian old-timey folk and modern synth-pop jams, between somewhat serious and totally absurd. Every song includes a hybrid of English and French, often reserving multiple English lines for infectious choruses. On "Cool When Yer Old," for instance, Belliveau hammers home the message of the song with the line: "Will you still care about being cool when yer old?"
While some of the dancier tracks necessitate a pop hook, others — like the Acadian folk toe-tapper "Black Bear" — feel like such straight-ahead fiddle tunes that electronic hi-hat is barely even noticeable. And while some of the content of the songs is fairly dark, like a cover of American murder ballad "Rain and Snow," there is always an excess of silliness that doesn't ever let the record take itself seriously. Lines like, "Why you always stand there with your stupid hair?" always reset the tone of the album, driving home that the alien land it lives on is, ultimately, a joke.
The strongest points of the album see Belliveau merging these alien elements as abrasively as possible, taking this East coast country-electro hybrid to its absurd extremes. This is showcased on album standout "Income Tax," which tells the tale of a wild night fuelled by the gift of an income tax receipt in the mail. Hearing a chorus of voices chant, "va blower friggen' quarante pieces à Taco Bell," over an enthusiastic banjo and vintage synth melodies drives home what is special about P'tit Belliveau. He's got the meme-y sensibility (and musical ludicrousness) of 100 Gecs, the experimental edge and DIY attitude of Chad VanGaalen and an unexpected, but obvious, love of traditional folk music.
It's hard to tell whether P'tit Belliveau is starting a journey across uncharted territory with Greatest Hits Vol. 1, or if he is just playing around while lost at sea. Regardless, it's a riot to witness. (Bonsound)