Stromae is defined by a sense of innovation. Debut album ‘Cheese’ and 2013’s ‘Racine Carrée’ showcased an artist set on going against the grain — a musical mind with a penchant for crafting diverse, exciting soundscapes. From invigorating dancefloor anthems to brutal, heartbreaking performances, Stromae’s has never restricted himself to one set sound. New album Multitude is no different; with a diverse selection of sounds and eclectic song structures, Stromae is proving that he’s still able to keep us on our toes.
Opening track Invaincu truly marks the grand return; with a glorious flare of bright afrobeat, Stromae immediately reclaims his throne. A thread of vibrancy runs throughout, a warmth lingering within the body of each track. From the xylophone-like twinkling of C’est Que Du Bonheur, to the rich, summer-y charm of Mon Amour, Stromae’s approach is playful yet precise.
Instrumentally, there is a ‘multitude’ of textures explored on this album. There is a constant sense of pairing light and dark sounds to create something entirely fresh. An example of this comes in the form of Fils De Joie, with its hear playful, childlike mouth ‘pops’ layered over an intense, brooding string quartet.
Stromae’s vocals themselves add to his textural innovation. At his core, Stromae is a storyteller, wanting to delve into the guts of society. His performance can entirely shift between tracks – moving from scaldingly fierce rap on Santé, before stripping back to vulnurable crooning on L’enfer depending on the desired mood. Regardless of his approach, however, there is always a remarkable sense of emotion captured by Stromae’s performance.
Empathy has always been a key ingredient in Stromae’s work. Songs attempt to unpick topics typically pushed aside; tracks touch on themes of depression, the suffering of women, as well as constructed narratives of unhappy couples and the relatives of sex workers. Every topic is handled with care and delivered eloquently.
One thing that can be said with confidence: when it comes to Stromae, his work is anything but ‘tous les mêmes’. Multitude is the perfect return for such a formidable musical talent, serving not only as a reminder of his innovative talents, but also highlighting how much richer his soundscaping and storytelling has grown over his hiatus.
Words: Emily Swingle
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