Sexy, languid, and studied, « Comme Ce Rouge Me Plait », or « How This Red Pleases Me », opens Palatine’s debut album like an augury of all that is to follow. This is music for the boudoir, full of twisted words and hidden meanings, lascivious vocals over lacy arrangements.
From the first track onwards, you can feel this foursome take hold of you and refuse to let go. Or more perversely, that you couldn’t leave them even if you wanted to. This much is clear: the liaison will be complicated, passionate, and potentially dangerous (« Là où mes mains se posent poussent des ecchymoses... », or « where I lay my hands, bruises will blossom »), but nonetheless vital and all-consuming. So, not your everyday love affair, but the dizzying heights and dark recesses of the human heart. « Ecchymose », « Stockholm », and « Grand Paon De Nuit » even sound like they could be unreleased tracks from Alain Bashung’s « Fantaisie Militaire / L’Imprudence » era. They deploy the same dark poetry and luminous despair, tightly written and sombrely arranged.
Palatine sing of the twists of fate that see our paths cross and diverge, of the myriad destinies that tear us apart and bring us together - to love, to hate, to remember, and to forget. « Golden Trinckets », « Marions-Nous » and « City Of Light » are like forced marches through the Nevada desert, or around the derelict ring-road of a nocturnal city, set to a post-punk western soundtrack; or a chance meeting between Mark Lanegan and Christophe. In other words, keyed-up and high strung.
And when you’re asked to dance on « Faux Brouillards », or the mesmerising first single « Paris - L’ombre », you do so with full consent: no cheating, no lying, eyes open, face to face.
The forebodingly titled « C’était Un Loup », or «it was a wolf», is the final track on this debut album. It is a lulling, orchestral number, full of soaring choruses that bring to mind Nino Ferrer of « Nino & Radiah ». It’s the type of music that makes you realise, sometimes you have to face the darkness to fully appreciate the light.