Nudge your Serge Gainsbourg record over a smidge to make room for another fabulous, eccentric Frenchman in your collection: Michel Polnareff. Polnareff’s is well worth a full listen, perhaps even twice in a row – in just 37 minutes you will seamlessly cycle through the many sounds of the wonderful world of Polnareff: baroque/pop/jazz/funk/psychedelic, executed with impeccable orchestration, arrangement, and production. Whether it’s schizophrenic cycling of contrasting personalities within the same song, or silly lyrics about ice cream, Polnareff has a gift for bringing humor to his music without making it over-the-top kitschy or ridiculous. Polnareff’s catches the man himself at an interesting point in his life, at once riding the high of major commercial success in France and yet recovering from a deep, isolated depression following the recent suicide of his dear friend and music mentor, Lucien Morisse, a prominent radio director responsible for signing Polnareff, and the subject of the album’s beautiful number “Qui a tué grand’maman?”.
Polnareff was daring and inventive, both in terms of music and his public image. He was boldly androgynous and glamorous, sporting wild platinum Bolan-esque hair and permanently donning futuristic white sunglasses, which, despite being the purposes of a degenerative eye condition, were still completely fashion-forward. And he teased the boundaries of sex in the mainstream, writing what were then considered pornographic lyrics, and flaunting his bare butt cheeks on a promotional poster at the cost of lawsuits. Put on your feather boa, and dance around the house to this one – it is pure joy the whole way through.
– Lauren Fay Levy
Recommended – A1 Voyages, A3 Petite Petite, B2 Qui A Tué Grand’ Maman, B4 Hey You Woman
Tags: Baroque Pop / Chanson / Essential Listening / Psychedelic / Vocal