Arguably no other genre (or subgenre, really) can capture introspection and emotion as beautifully and intensely as orchestrated dream pop. With its gentle yet profound arrangements, lovely harmonies, and affective melodies, more often than not, the music pierces listeners’ hearts and leaves them in awe. On its short but sweet debut, 27 rue de mi’chelle, Carrousel does just that. Every element is perfected and carefully chosen, ensuring a captivating experience for those willing to lose themselves in the journey.
Carrousel is masterminded by Joel Piedt. Like many creative people, he called upon his musician friends to help channel his heartbreak into art. Inspired by his lost love, Michelle, the album is described as “a musical novella, telling the story of self-loathing, regret, loss, sorrow, and ultimately acceptance.” Unsurprisingly, Piedt claims that the sequencing of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds was a crucial influence, saying, “we attempted to piecemeal parts of songs together to give the album a certain feel… as if the music were traveling through various times and places, different scenes.” He also credits the romanticism of Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” for displaying how music can “[evoke] strong images and feelings by way of recurring melodic themes.” Overall, his ambition for this debut was to “tell an emotionally evocative story, unfolding one note at a time.” Indeed, 27 rue de mi’chelle will surely stand as one of the most hauntingly poignant and moving record of the year.
At approx. a half hour in duration, the album is a remarkable example of how brevity can benefit powerful feelings. From the opening staccato majesty of “Idée Fixe” to the closing strings of the title track, 27 rue de mi’chelle is tenderly gripping. With its fragile vocals and chamber pop orchestration, “14” flows like a magnificent blend of Little Tybee and Sufjan Stevens. Piedt’s lyrical reference to poet John Donne (“Batter my heart…”) is clever and appropriate. “You Only Love Yourself” bursts with delicate intensity as string arpeggios paint a mournful picture. “Moonlight” is a quiet acoustic ballad that radiates with the repetition of touching phrases, such as “she still loves me in my dreams.” When devastation and impossible desires are worded this simply, nothing else can compare.
“Where Do We Go from Here” contains a similar moment; complemented by subdued cellos, horns, and harmonies, Piedt ever so softly sings variations of “when our worlds collapse. We’ll sit and watch together.” It’s easy to feel every ounce of pain he does (especially if you’ve recently lost someone, too). “Take Me Now” is full of ghostly layered vocals, while “(15)” offers a desperate plea for a second chance. As for the title track, it concludes the album with more wonderful melodies as Piedt seems to have comes to terms with his situation. Still, it’s just as crushing as the rest of the record.
27 rue de mi’chelle is a restrained, emotionally shattering masterpiece. Piedt and his musicians guarantee that each note, word, and sound conveys a world of grief and yearning, and as John Cage famously alluded, even the silence speaks volumes. Anyone who’s ever gone through a sudden loss has felt exactly what Piedt expresses here: the sadness of solitude, the overwhelming weight of unanswered reasoning, and worst of all, the maddening desire to have it all back again, if only for an instant. Carrousel has crafted a true work of art with 27 rue de mi’chelle, and you should hear it as soon as possible.