Lisa Papineau – Night Moves

Lisa Papineau
Night Moves

Opening the solo debut Night Moves with “Out to You,” the minimal, atmospheric mood is set with simple trip-hop-inspired sounds but with a more relaxed attitude. The breathy voice sweeps across the musical landscape before gracefully sliding into the chorus. You can feel muscles starting to relax and your eyes getting heavier as you begin to slip away with the soft sounds. Your bed looks awfully inviting right now. But then you are suddenly jolted by “Shucking, Jiving,” the obligatory upbeat tack with laughable electronic washes and beats along with filters that twist Papineau’s vocals into a piercing, noisy mess that is nearly unlistenable.

This is an unfortunate fate for such a lovely voice. Just allowing such a horrific thing to take place at all has me questioning the artist’s judgment. But one thing the song does provide is a peak into what Papineau might sound like when she doesn’t allow her voice to follow the typical breathy direction that she normally takes. The last minute of the track leaves the vocal distortions out, and this is a promising sound that is a refreshing change from the rest of the album. Too bad most people will likely not make it past minute one.

Lyrically speaking, the album is just as minimal as the instrumental parts. For a good portion of the time, the lyrics don’t offer much to the listener. Oftentimes, her effort in creating simple poetic lines are nothing more than statements of the obvious like in “What are We Waiting For” with the chorus lines “What are we waiting for? / one thing then one more.” Moments of vocal subtleties are few, and even when they are presented, they are often skipped over, because by the time they arrive, the listener has likely started in on something else to keep them entertained, like playing Scrabble, cleaning, or sleeping.

I can appreciate Papineau’s attempt at minimalism; however, the songs just aren’t strong enough to carry their own weight. With barely there electronically based music and monotonous breathy vocals that offer little in the way of lyrics, the listener has little to focus his or her energy on. Aside from background music, the singer from Big Sir and Pet fails to provide a distinctive record that will set her apart from others in her realm. It is a shame, because while she does have a beautiful voice, it’s hard to appreciate it on an album that tries to experiment in areas where many artists before her have not only attempted similar feats, but done it much better. Perhaps she should stick to prividing guest vocals, like she has done with M83 and Air.