Dave's Karkwa Review
Karkwa Les Chemins De Verre, the first French language album we run across on the short list year. Welcome friend – you are refreshing, if you are not anything else.
For me it’s always interesting listening to an album en francais – I’m able to piece parts of the lyrics together, and I usually get limited by my own ignorance halfway through, but the music always keeps me listening.
That is no different with Karkwa – the album starts with a subtle, yet symbolic sound of a fire crackling and popping, or is that vinyl hiss? Not matter, because before you are able to indentify what it is, the lead track explodes out of the speakers and thus your journey begins.
Artistically, every song on Les Chemins De Verre sounds like a big statement, something that Radiohead and Sigur Ros achieve on albums these days (bands Karkwa are often compared with BTW), and something Coldplay and U2 attempt to achieve. However there is more of a mass, pop sensibility to this particular album. To the Karkwa’s credit they achieve a unified message here, without getting hokey and preachy about their art.
This album has something for everybody – “Dors Dans Mon Sang” is a haunting dark piano driven tune, “Marie Tu Pleures” is a sing a long, hand clap–a-thon, “La Piqure” is drenched in sentimental angst. But at the root of every song is an appeal, that speaks to listeners – it’s one of the most accessible French albums I’ve ever heard. With that being said, I'm really indifferent to it on a whole. I think it's good, but would I suggest you run out and get it or not get it? No either way.
Karkwa, has been able to demonstrate exactly what music is meant to do - break down barriers, in this case, they break down language. Le Chemins De Verre” maybe a French album but you don’t have to know the language to understand the message and emotion used to create it. Will it stand up over time, or will it just be the gateway to different artists doing the same thing? Time will judge that one.
DAVE'S KEY TRACKS: 'L'acouphene'; 'Dors Dans Mon Sang'; '28 Jours', 'Marie Tu Pleures'
The Polaris Prize Shortlist, Monday, August 2, 2010