Cercueil – S/T EP

Cercueil
S/T EP

This self-titled EP contains five tracks of copacetic, synth-based electro-pop from Cercueil, the French duo of Penelope Michel and Nico Devos. Strains of goth and industrial rhythms intertwined with electronic sound effects permeate through the synth-rock foundation as Cercueil blur the boundaries between dark electronic soundscapes and dreamy synth-pop, albeit not quite as polished and with a little less panache than the RIYLs.

But where the music may suffer from an occasional lack of inventiveness the vocals provide compensation and are what supplies Cercueil with some flair. Sounding like a cross between Mimi Goese (Mimi, Hugo Largo) and P.J. Harvey, the vocals glide over the ambulatory electronic textures in a keen style providing the necessary euphonious melodies with often chilling effect.

The singing grabs most of the attention not with catchy choruses or studio trickery, but with torch-song diva bravado. And while the progressive sonic textures simmering below the synth-pop rhythms appear to be somewhat rigid, they are actually a bit fluid, providing a slowly-shifting backdrop for the vocal melodies. These transformations evolve slowly within each track but vary enough between tracks to keep the listener’s attention.

The deep bass and electric beats of the sultry opener “Low” seem like they were taken from a Nine Inch Nails tune and watered down a bit, while the following track, “Opening Night” employs an almost reggae beat sunshiny enough to allow the vocals to blossom. “Noche” and “Sponger Gene” follow at a slower pace with creepier electronic blips and bleeps with some more melodic keyboard bits added to the latter. The EP closes with “U Need It” which was created for Cerberus Shoal’s Earbeat Project #1 and is shorter, sparser and the least tuneful.

While the music on this self-titled EP is interesting enough with intervals of pointed synth-rock and enticing vocals, many of the synthetic beats and trippy melodies are forgotten once the disc has finished playing. But the band seem headed in the right direction and with a little more experience and some sharper songwriting even better things can be expected of Cercueil’s next release. In the meantime, if you like disquieting, dark electro-pop with distinctive female vocals, this 21 minute, 5-song EP is worth checking out.