Reviews | Album
Brol is the first studio album released by Angèle, a young Belgian artist from Brussels. It has been certified Diamond. The first single of the album “La Loi de Murphy” [Murphy’s Law] was released in October of 2017. The album itself was published by Angèle on her own label in October of 2018, and was reissued in November of 2019. How come an album that is almost 3 years old can still be relevant to this day? Let’s find out.
• Pop Star
Over the years, Angèle has become an important figure in the French speaking landscape. She addresses her newfound notoriety with bitterness on the songs “Flou” [Blur] and “Perdu” [Lost]. But what made her so successful in the first place? Maybe it’s the minimalist and bright pop instrumental. Most of the tracks on this record use some kind of upbeat and breathy synth that works very well with Angèle’s silvery voice tone. She has a very unique voice that she uses to sing catchy and yet well thought out lyrics. She is also one of the few French speaking artists that can sing in English without sounding cringy.
One could say one of the reasons she became famous is because she represents this idea of the blonde princess who sings about boys. But that would be wrong. Even though one of the main themes of this project is love, which is not surprising coming from a pop album, it’s done in a remarkable way. For instance, on “Les Matins” [The Mornings] you can really feel the raw emotions through Angèle’s voice.
• A Woman of her Time
The lyrics on this album don’t revolve only around boys. Many different themes are addressed here. Those themes are what makes this album stand out, and what makes this album so contemporary. “Flemme” talks about Angèle being lazy and not wanting to party, “Tout Oublier” (featuring her brother, rapper Roméo Elvis) talks about how letting go of things can help us feel better. The song “J’entend” talks about her tinnitus (it may sound dumb, but it’s really well done).
But one of the most interesting themes of the album appears on “Victime des Réseaux” [Social Networks victim], “Je veux tes yeux” [I want your eyes] or “Jalousie” [Jealousy]. Here Angèle sings about how social media affect people’s lives. She talks about how it can create a feeling of envy and resentment in people’s minds, but also how our social lives are affected by these new technologies. The artist is never preachy in her attitude and often takes herself as an example of what she talks about. The song “La Thune” [Money] is another instance of Angèle describing today’s social behaviour. The main theme of this song is, well, money, hence the reggae off-beat rhythm. The song chorus says “Tout le monde il veut seulement la thune / Et seulement ça, ça les fait bander / Tout le monde il veut seulement la fame / Et seulement ça, ça les fait bouger.” [Everybody only wants money / And only that can turn them on / Everybody only wants fame / And only that can get them to move]. In the second verse she comments that even her, is part of those people.
• Socially Engaged
The track “Ta Reine” [Your Queen] is about a woman who is in love with another woman. It has everything a great ballad needs. Angèle’s voice is especially beautiful on this one. The reissue gave us a brand new version of this song recorded with a live orchestra. The track “Balance ton quoi” [“Report your what”, a reference to the #balancetonporc Movement that appeared in France during the Me Too Movement] is about feminism. ”Balance ton quoi” made a lot of noise when its music video was released. In this music video you could see Angèle as the leader of the “Anti Sexism Academy” teaching men how they should behave with women. From an outside look it may look as if Angèle is trying to tick all the boxes of social justice and please as many people as possible. And yet, these songs are very sincere and made with no ulterior motive.
Angèle lyrics are always catchy but never preachy. She is a very talented artist even though to fully appreciate it you may have to let go of some of your preconceptions.