Tamed Impala: A review of Barbagallo’s ‘Danse Dans Les Ailleurs’

Courtesy of Julien Barbagallo's Facebook.

By D.A. Dellechiaie
BU News Service


I admit this is going to be a challenge to convince my fellow Americans that they should listen to a French album. I don’t speak French. If I can’t judge the lyrics, what can I judge? Answer: The sound.

And that’s why I recommend the new album by Tame Impala’s drummer, Julien Barbagallo, “Danse Dans Les Ailleurs.”

One of the strengths of this album is that Barbagallo uses American and British sounds and melodies to frame his songs. He manages to maintain his Jacque Brel-ian allegiance to France but unlike French postmodern philosophy, it’s accessible. He leaves his différances at the door.  

“L’échappée” begins the album with some cowboy strumming. The piano is playful like a street performer. You begin to realize something (that you will notice as you listen to the album closely) namely, that the song sounds like a cover of the theme song to Scrubs.  

Songs such as “L’échappée” and “Les grandes visions” sound like TV theme songs with their quick pop beats. And what’s not to like about theme songs? They are the overtures for TV show.

But this conformity and repetitiveness does not imply banality. The sound keeps your mood at a baseline. The synthesizers that appear 3/4s of the way through the song don’t distract but instead accent the song like a lemonade on a hot day.

Songs like “Boucher sauvage” and “L’offrande” sound like 50s R&B. When the guitar and other non-classical instruments arrive you realize you have traveled seamlessly into the 60s. Barbagallo’s voice stays at a conversational tone. He’s not a performer but rather your friend that decided to bring a guitar along to the picnic and surprise surprise, he doesn’t play “Wonderwall”!

“Longtemps possible” starts you off with an emotional medieval guitar ballad but it’s not playful (ironic?) or lustful, it’s dreamy. With every piano strike you descend deeper into a dream. The light guitar playing keeps you calm. The inclusion of the female singer turns the song into an image of two lovers resting at the top of a hill, watching the sun set, not caring that it’s one less sun set that they’ll live to see, but instead allowing the moment to serve as a promise for another day, another sunset, another memory. Together.

“Les mains lentes” is an acoustic Tame Impala song. You can hear the Pink Floyd influences with every morrarca shake and church bell. It’s experimental but not necessarily oppressive. The piano does get annoying. The saxophone tries to make up for his little brother, the piano, by attempting to calm us but the background noise sounds like an alarm clock. “Forget the dream, wake up! EH EH EH EH.” This feeling of an abrupt wake up call is continued in the last song “Je me tais.”

While drugs may have created some of the greatest music of all time (and killed most of the creators), I am strongly in favor of listening to new music sober.  Schopenhauer says somewhere in his “pessimistic” (I think it’s realistic) philosophic treatise, “The World as Will and Representation,” that music is the one art form that brings us in contact with the beauty of the Ideal world.

While others are off escaping this world via psychedelics and severing their ties to their ego to find the world spirit, God, or their car keys, I’ll be here smiling and listening to a French man speak to me in a universal language that we can all understand: Music.

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