CD, self-released, 2006
French band 16pac started out a number of years ago, but their latest album “Endless Work In Progress” is the first I’ve ever heard of them. They’re apparently a three piece band, fronted by female vocalist Emma Delaval and François Puech.
The music on “Endless Work In Progress” can best be described as classic folk rock influenced darkish, soft electro pop ballads with intelligent and often glitchy beats. They actually remind me a lot of Sarah McLachlan and some of the other “Lilith Fair”-type folk rock inspired acts.
The songs and melodies are highly catchy, very well written, avoid the clichés of modern pop music and especially the electronic elements are well done. While also minimalistic, they make good use of heavy synth lines, but on almost all of the tracks, the electronic elements and glitchy beats have been pushed to the background in favour of the vocals and acoustic instruments such as piano, bass and guitar. This works very well on especially songs like the opening track “Ghost World” and “Steering Away”, but other songs seem to almost beg for more of a punch and stronger vocals. Strangely enough, “The Alarm” and the hidden track, a remix of “If We Are Free”, actually manages to pack that much needed punch, so I wonder if this is possibly just a mastering issue.
Another thing is that I’ve found the lyrics to be overly simplistic and superficial, sometimes bordering on silly. I know it’s supposed to be laid back, easy listening pop music, but still that doesn’t mean that lyrics can’t be well thought out and more engaging or deep – especially when the music itself is so good.
Overall, this is a pretty good album that, despite its flaws, are bound to appeal to fans of artists like Sarah McLachlan and Dido, as well as French electro pop in general. If this type of music is up your alley, I highly recommend that you give 16pac a listen, as they definitely do have a lot of potential.
— Jonas Mansoor