Owen - L'ami du Peuple
Record Label: Polyvinyl Records
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Prepare yourself to fall in love all over again with the music of Mr Mike Kinsella. One of the few standing veterans of the emo world, Kinsella has returned again, this time with yet another release from Owen. Whilst it’s gotten to a point that we can almost completely rely on Kinsella to create music that’s at least pleasant, it’s wonderful to hear an album like L’ami du Peuple. Ten tracks of no thrills indie folk which let the lyrics speak for themselves, whilst this isn’t an album that will make many end of the year lists, it is certainly a record for people to return to any time they find themselves alone or just having a contemplative moment.
Y’know that part on Death Cab For Cutie’s “The Sound Of Settling”? When Mr Gibbard refuses to tell what the actual sound of settling is and chooses to just leave us with ‘bah, bahs’? Yeah, well, if you’re still wondering, L’ami du Peuple is probably the answer to that. Every track on here just seeps with Kinsella’s journey into settling down and as a result of that, he’s presented us with one of the most relaxing albums of the year. Whether it’s the occasional twinkle and the hushed vocals of opener “I Got High” or the almost dance-like synths of “The Burial”, nothing on here is set to get the heart pulsing or to affect your day too much. That’s not to say it’s boring, however. Kinsella is on top lyrical form. Lines such as Colors tend to fade/[…]/ I can see them with my eyes closed/ Light refracted like it once was,” and... show that Kinsella’s comfort in life haven’t separated him from being able to identify with his audience or with the emotional topics he’s dealt with since his tender years.
Listening to L’ami du Peuple is like aurally witnessing a man on a journey of self-discovery. Whilst Kinsella has accepted his surroundings, it doesn’t mean he’s sitting out the game. “I Got High”’s simultaneous acknowledgement of the positive effect of his education and criticism of the futility of education is but a sample of the poeticism that Kinsella displays on here. On the flipside of the coin, “A Fever” uses brash lyrics which present emotions in a metaphorically upfront way. Whilst it may seem like I’m focusing a little too much on Owen’s lyrics, the general pleasantness of the record means it would be very easy to just leave L’ami du Peuple playing in the background without really listening to it.
That’s the album’s main flaw, however. Whilst it’s a spectacular record if you listen hard to it, the soft strumming, hushed vocals and earnest, sweet sounds filtering through the speakers can get lost. Although it feels like Kinsella is entirely comfortable in doing what he does, a touch of experimentation certainly wouldn’t go amiss as occasionally tracks run into one another with little difference between them. This doesn’t particularly affect the overall album, however for the sake of Owen getting the attention it deserves, maybe catering to the audience could help him out a bit.
Overall, L’ami du Peuple is a wonderful album. Kinsella has, yet again, created music as an art form and has provided us with a soundtrack to all of those moments between the events. With no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Kinsella is a truly talented artist.
" a touch of experimentation certainly wouldn’t go amiss as occasionally tracks run into one another with little difference between them." This statement pretty much sums up Owen, right? I loved the first few albums but at some point it just got tiring. It's sounds great but how many times can he repeat the same type of songs? I say this having not listened to the newest release but having listened to almost everything before it.
I cannot decide which one of his albums is my favorite. He's so consistent. He's the only artist that I know that has that title. The most consistent. He's never made a wrong move, even the young sound of his first album is amazing. AOTY for me.
I feel like despite a couple of sentences trying to suggest otherwise, this is the only Owen album the reviewer has heard.
I have to agree here. In the context of Kinsella's musical journey, L'Ami Du Peuple is certainly his most mature, and perhaps best album, while still retaining the classic features that you would expect from an Owen record. This record has everything from slow-building jams to gorgeous strolls through musical landscapes. I would argue that the track Bad Blood provides the moment of experimentation that the review is looking for as it is quite different from other tracks in Mike's vast catalog. This will certainly be high on my end-of-the-year list.
I'm not going to lie, this album didn't exactly hit me with first listen, such as his other albums. But now I can't get enough of it. I think every Owen album offers something different and unique. I still can't pick my favorite Owen album and probably never will. It's just too tough of a challenge.