CD, Ant-Zen, 2009
For her third full-length release on the German label Ant-Zen, Geneviéve Pasquier and collaborators substantially shifted their creative focus towards an ostensibly more cabaret aesthetic, elements of which could already be found in previous releases. Admittedly, while I’m an appreciator of a cabaret and chanson atmosphere, I am by no means a connoisseur (a few bits of Brecht, Weil and Edith Piaf and that’s about it) and the recent resurgence of cabaret and burlesque pretty much eluded me. Consequently, in the first few listens, “Le Cabaret Moi” felt engaging and with a few memorable songs. With prolonged listening, however, there is a feeling that something may be amiss.
The effective opening tracks, “Bouge!” and “Mon Cabaret” show Geneviéve Pasquier to be quite at ease both with faster-paced electro and noise instrumental backgrounds as well as chanson, styles that she toys with in the remainder of the album bringing a further two song highlights: “Trance” and “All The Other Girls”. It songs like these which show her strong points in composition and interpretation. Also, her theatrical and sometimes larger-than-life vocal interpretations either effectively compliment the instrumental elements or carry the song on their own, relegating the instrumentation to a somewhat secondary role with the end result being rather engaging and, at points, memorable.
In contrast, attempts at slower, more ballad-like, material do not feel so successful. To me, these fail partly because of the same theatrical larger-than-life attitude which makes other songs so effective but detracts from a much needed feeling of intimacy but, mostly, because of an imbalance between the roles of voice and instrumentation which frequently feel at odds with each other. This balance is actually reached in the closing piece, “Some Days Ago”, a song which could have been an effective template for other slower pieces in “Cabaret Moi”.
Incidentally, the relatively violent cover of The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” seems quite at odds with the rest of the album and feels somewhat rushed even. One may well ask why such a stark contrast and why didn’t Pasquier try to make this piece ‘her own’ merging it to the rest of the album instead of presenting the listener with what is a highly disruptive (and not particularly effective) flow breaker?
Though it has its failings and in some aspects it may not sound particularly fresh, “Le Cabaret Moi” is nevertheless a relatively solid offering by Geneviéve Pasquier which could have benefited greatly from a couple of different production and aesthetic choices. Not an album to listen regularly but certainly one to go back to on occasion and rediscover the odd forgotten track.
— Miguel de Sousa