After a self-produced album ‘The Desert of Wasted Time’ (2016) that obtained a good critical reception in French indie webzines, Erwan Pépiot comes back with 9 new songs, gathered in ‘Hidden Memories’, a new album released in June 2017 on Toolong Records and mastered by François Fanelli at Sonics Mastering. Erwan Pépiot is a DIY multi-instrumentalist based in Paris. He wrote, recorded and mixed the entire project on his own in his home-studio. Only one exception to the rule: Aurélie Tremblay’s voice, present on every track. The vocals are the first thing that strikes you when you listen to Somehow’s romantic and melancholic universe. Erwan’s phrase and timber are in line with Morrissey and Ian Curtis, but the melodies show a real singularity and sincerity. Somehow’s surrealist lyrics deal with human relationships, the passing of time, and the ideas of change and revolution. Described as having a unique style halfway between Joy Division and Belle and Sebastian.
Meet me at the western point starts off with a simple rhythm from guitar and drums and grows into an intriguing track. The vocals are deep with the backing vocals from Tremblay adding an air of mystery. It does have an air of The Smiths with the meandering vocals, interweaving with the instruments. There are many changes in tempo which add interest and draw you further in.
Reminding me of Belle and Sabastian All the ways are leading to you has a lovely feel that glides along which is in contrast to the lyrics which tell of desperate waiting for someone to come along. The lyrics have an almost folky vibe which is enhanced by the introduction of pipes towards the end of the track.
Much more rhythmic Someday has a great melody, vibrant with guitars, which change tempo and key. The vocals really fit this track and I can imagine sitting in the sunshine with a glass of wine whilst this pulses along in the background. The layers of guitars and drums add complexity and interest. It certainly is a toe tapping tune that makes you want to listen again and again.
A man and a diving soul is introduced with a deep, heavy bass line that suits the timbre of Pépiot’s vocals. When the drums are introduced it brings a different texture to the track, which winds back and forth between the sombre feel of the verse and upbeat and dance like melody of the mid sections.
While the days go by is an instant body moving track, toes tapping and head nodding along. This reminds me of Joy Division and sparks a number of memories for me. The lyrics move from dark to imploring but this is an upbeat track, it would sound great on the radio.
The acoustic guitar heralds Escape, moving from soft to another great melody. Here we are given Tremlays vocals up front, which are pure and deep, resonant with folk but with an indie spin. Red Butterflies reminded me of early Smiths in terms of vocals and rhythm. The effervescence shown by the two part vocals really worked as it added another layer.
Fear of heights shows just how clearly the differences between the deep, richness of the vocals and the lighter quality of the instrumentation are. The playing on this track adds a sustained atmospheric vibe. The changes in tempo make this feel like two tracks with a bridge between them.
Meaningless thoughts in dark times uses the deep vocals to maximum effect to provide a bleak and dark sound, whilst the bass line adds to this feel. However, the guitar adds shimmers of light, like the stars in the night sky, brief but intense. The repeated vocals and the interplay between the two voices towards the end of the track add a melancholy feel.
The standout tracks for me were Somehow and While The Days Go By which I really enjoyed. The whole album has a really lovely feel, capturing some of the essence of bygone days. I was a big Joy Division and Smiths fan and so this rekindled some of the feelings I had when I hear them. The melodies and complexity reminded me of Belle and Sabastian in the way that they get you singing along and your body moving.