The summer of 2008 isn’t exactly legendary, and never went down in history, but it did give us Sébastien Tellier‘s finest album Sexuality, and the quite crazy Eurovision Song Contest performance that went with it.
It opens with the glorious analogue arpeggio of Roche, a somewhat nonsensical track about how everyone wants to fall in love with Sébastien in the Biarritz summer. This is one of the most listened to tracks in my iTunes library, partly due to a quirk of good timing (it came out around the time I set the library up), and partly because it’s just so good – refreshing, uplifting, and just generally new. The production, by half of Daft Punk, is perfect, somehow both minimal and overproduced, laid back and quirky. Sébastien, meanwhile, is still dreaming of Biarritz in summer.
Kilometer is next, another raunchy track, unmistakably French, but with a strong R&B feel and a gratuitous use of silence. Look brings back the analogue arpeggios, but slower and much more relaxed this time. There’s really little to fault here.
What there always is, is a healthy dose of insanity, and the Eurovision entry Divine comes next, one of Tellier’s two minor UK hits, having peaked at number 106. I suspect most people in the UK just didn’t get it, as it doesn’t make a lot of sense outside of the context of the album, and frankly I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense here either. It’s fun, though.
The raunchier tracks are never far away, though, and Pomme is another – both brilliant and mad, with a slightly bonkers R&B bass line. Une Heure is less overt, apart perhaps from the lyrics, and bobs along pleasantly with a warping bass part and gently tripping drums. Then comes the long instrumental Sexual Sportswear, the track that originally launched the album on MySpace. Like most of the album, it’s entirely brilliant, and this time the only slightly insane thing is the title.
Some tracks are more forgettable – the gentle Elle fades away pleasantly into the background, but then Fingers of Steel turns up, a sweet song full of analogue riffs and gentle sounds. Manty is joyful, built seemingly around the sound of a woman laughing. And by then, the album is pretty much over already.
Then the slightly flanged piano work of L’Amour et la Violence appears. I’m not sure I could completely explain why, but this is my favourite track on here – the lyrics are very introspective (roughly translated, “tell me what you think of my life…” and the piano is played to perfection. It’s a perfect closing track, possibly one of the best I’ve ever heard.
Sexuality is daft – very French, often very raunchy, and almost always pretty silly – but it all works, somehow – it’s a fantastic album. Essential listening.
You can still find Sexuality through all major online retailers.