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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Bertrand Burgalat
Portrait-Robot
Hit Thing Records

Rating: 5/10 ?


November 28, 2005
Despite recent goings-on, you can always count on French musicians to produce spacey electro-pop on a regular basis. Bertrand Burgalat is not a newcomer to this scene - he's been releasing this brand of music since 2000 and has collaborated with Depeche Mode, Einsturzende Neubauten and Air - but somehow, his fourth full-length, Portrait-Robot, doesn't have the confident swagger you'd expect from such a seasoned veteran. Rather, it sounds like an album trying to catch up to a trend that is already on the decline.

The first problem Portrait-Robot presents is a lack of concision: of the 21 tracks appearing on the album (to be released on 2 LPs), only 5 are possible keepers. Burgalat demonstrates his ineptitude with self-editing on songs like "Another World Gone By" - which could be a very catchy song if not for some questionable vocal moves that don't even fit in the song's structure. In it, Burgalat stretches the limit of his voice to hit a note that shouldn't even be in the song. "Spring Isn't Fair" suffers from a similar ailment, as it is a song that begs to be cute and poppy but is weighed down by an out-of-place pre-chorus.

The language barrier also comes into play on Portrait-Robot, but not because his lyrics are nonsensical; rather, Burgalat sounds better when he sings in French. Maybe I'm just reacting to his tendency to use zs in place of ths, but I really believe his English is out of flat. There's no comparison between the awkward feel of "Pablo's Dove" and following track, "Je Suis Seul Dans Ma Chanson," which in comparison sounds fairly graceful. This wouldn't be such a big deal if only a few songs were anglicized, but about half of the songs are in English, and most stick out as either silly or forgettable.

Burgalat hits a small stride towards the end of the disc with the funky "Sans Titre," the minimalist "Orea Onira" and the Airy "Paola". The duo of Shaft-like "Sans Titre" and "Orea Onira" is the most satisfying combo on the disc, and it makes one wish that Portrait-Robot had this much variety all the time. There are plenty of redeeming moments on the album, but it takes far too long to find them. Bertrand Burgalat no doubt has a flair for complex pop melodies, but since this formula only works on half of the tracks, Portrait-Robot only gets half credit.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown

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