Record of the Week: Maraudeur: Puissance 12"

Maraudeur: Puissance 4 12” (Feel It Records) The first time I listened to Puissance, the debut record from Germany’s Maraudeur, I liked it immediately. It’s a style that feels like comfort food to me, bass-forward post-punk with nervous, herky-jerky rhythms, deadpan vocals, and an assortment of plucked guitar notes and synth swooshes occupying the higher frequency range. Not everything I hear in this vein sticks with me, but I kept returning to Puissance 4. There was a complexity there, something I couldn’t grasp with a few cursory listens. Further examination revealed a clear climax at Puissance’s center, with the last track on the a-side, “Slow Dress,” and the first track on the b-side, “T.W.Y.W.Y.S.,” standing out from the pack (though, in retrospect, I wonder if these songs just stood out to me because their lyrics are in English). Maraudeur builds “Slow Dress” around a slinky bass groove that sounds straight off of Wire’s 154, but it’s the lyrics that intrigue me. The singer keeps repeating, “slow dress… where is the slit?” (at least I think that’s what they’re saying… they don’t include lyrics with the LP). I find that lyric so evocative. What is a slow dress? Is it a dress without a slit that forces you to walk slowly? I love that this little slice of life detail is transformed by repetition into a strange incantation, a strategy the Fall (perhaps my favorite band ever) leaned on often. A restrictive dress that makes it hard to move makes me think the singer is at some sort of formal event, and I can’t help but wonder why is this punk singer wearing a fancy ball gown? None of this is in the song as far as I can tell, but it indicates how Maraudeur gets my mind racing. “T.W.Y.W.Y.S.” also leans on repetition, with its refrain of “the way you wear your scarf” forming the backbone of another evocative tale of what happens in a person’s mind as they find someone attractive and then wrestle neurotically with the implications of that feeling. The music is just as evocative as the lyrics, too. “T.W.Y.W.Y.S.” stands out as the brightest and poppiest song on Puissance 4, but when you listen, you realize the chords are not what you expect them to be… they’re fucked up and unexpected, yet that pop sugar rush still finds its way through the dissonance. I’m bummed that I don’t speak French well or German at all, because it probably means I’m missing out on great lyrics for the songs in those languages, but at least I can understand what Maraudeur is saying in the universal language.

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