Will Sexuality see Tellier take his place in the mainstream alongside Daft Punk and Air?
Louis Pattison 2008
The surprise here, is not that Sebastian Tellier has written an album about sex and love-making, but that it has taken him four albums to do it. While very much a contemporary of the big names of the ‘90s new wave of Parisian pop – Sexuality is produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk, while his records find a home in France on Air’s Record Makers imprint – Tellier is a figure who owes as much to pop stars of a slightly older vintage. Take the opening Roche, a mellow synth-pop number through which Tellier swoons, coos, and come-hithers like a young Serge Gainsbourg.
Tellier’s take on the classic French crooner is an update, rather than an echo, though. Sexuality is a prime example of the 21st Century’s obsession with the thick vintage synthesisers and clicking drum machines of the ‘70s and early ‘80s, an almost fetishistic recreation of the warm, enveloping textures of progressive pop (and Tellier has more claim to it than most, if rumours he is the son of one of classic prog-rock greats Magma is to be believed).
Tellier is the only vocalist here, his earnest croon falling in line with the hissing electronics, French and English language love songs part submerged underneath velvety swathes of keyboard. He’s not wholly alone, though: on Manty, female voices trill in a wordless chorus, one which Tellier loops through the entire track; meanwhile, on the slow, squelchy Pomme, a girl’s voice pants in ecstasy in a knowing echo of Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s orgasmic Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus. The sprawling Sexual Sportswear, meanwhile, provides a sort of mid-album interlude, a wholly instrumental synthesiser work-out that suggests a Jean-Michel Jarre style space-pop album is only a decision away. Will Sexuality see Tellier take his place in the mainstream alongside Daft Punk and Air? Probably not – his sound is just a little too languid for the pop marketplace, his songs a little too opaque. No, this is one for the connoisseurs, and one suspects Tellier is more than happy with that.