I’ve only really dabbled in French pop, but Cléa Vincent instantly reminded me of one of my favorites: Isabelle Antena, who back in the 80s combined electronic dream pop and Brazilian bossa nova, which was best showcased on her album Camino Del Sol. Like Antena, Vincent makes songs that are elegant and refined (it might just be that she’s French and I’m a boorish American), but her focus is more on the dancefloor, with a sound somewhere between Antena’s and the mutant disco stylings of Lizzy Mercier Descloux.
Vincent funnels those older styles through a modern pop sensibility, using a lot of colorful sounds and instruments to craft catchy hooks. Her music is instantly very warm and inviting, but is also tinged with a bit of melancholy. It’s that “I’m sad, let’s dance” style of pop, like on “Château Perdu,” which starts as a downbeat piano ballad before turning into a joyous saxophone-driven dance floor freakout.
This is another album where I don’t understand any of the words, but they feel even less necessary here, since pop music almost never relies on its lyrics to be enjoyable. (There’s also some practical application: lyrics distract me when I’m working, so this album soundtracked a lot of my writing.) Instead, it’s easy to bask in Vincent’s sunny productions and her charm as a singer, which made Retiens Mon Désir one of the year’s most satisfying pop diversions.