# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Iko Cherie - Dreaming On

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 9 / 11 / 2015

Iko Cherie - Dreaming On
Label: Elefant Records
Format: CD


After spending time with Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier in Monade, Bordeaux- born and raised Marie Merlet has released her debut album as Iko Cherie, which reveals that there is so much more to her than a love of 60's French pop

Any music lover that has had an obsession with the dreamy, breathy French pop that Francoise Hardy and Claudine Longet have been purveyors of for so many decades and which is being carried on through the music of Charlotte Gainsbourg will find much to love in ‘Dreaming On’. Bordeaux born and raised but now based in London, Marie Merlet has been involved in music for some years noww. ‘Dreaming On’ is the first album Merlet has released under the Iko Cherie banner, although she will be known to many through her work with Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier under the names Monade, Zooey and Lisbonne. Although there is nothing groundbreaking about the sound Merlet has created over these eleven songs (ten originals and a cover of Sun Ra’s ‘Dreamin’ which is sung in French and is the kind of lazy summer day song that you never want to end), the end result is so comforting, refreshing and positive it’s simply hard to resist. Merlet has taken inspiration from all periods of her musical career and from many differing genres to create a sound that never drifts too far from her obvious love of French artists like Hardy and Gainsbourg. At times though, especially on opener ‘If Every Song Could Break Your Heart’, Merlet sounds uncannily like little known English singer Georgie Carter who released an album some eight years ago and who seems to have vanished off the musical radar. The same innocent yet breathy vocal style that Carter possessed makes a welcome return on Merlet’s album. But those bossa-nova touches and the spacey lounge ambience which alone should date Merlet’s sound even further back in time tend to create a contemporary sound rather than one that is rooted in the past. This writer raved about Carter’s album way back then, but I’m now beginning to wish I’d not been so obsessed with it. In some ways it feels like I’m just listening to that album yet again. While it’s really the first two tracks (‘Wild Child’, the second song, is even more reminiscent of Carter’s vocal style) that really bring Carter’s album to mind, the seed is set and it’s difficult to shift the thought that if you’ve heard Carter’s distinctive vocals then parts of this album could have been made by that artist. That Merlet is a musician and vocalist of considerable talent there is no doubt. That she can take her obvious influences, some of which date back decades, and still add enough of her own vision and sound to still create a sound that sets her a little apart takes some skill. The French language ‘Comme Ferdinand et Marianne’ combines doo-wop with Merlet’s airy vocals, something that really shouldn’t work but in Merlet’s world it appears that anything is possible. Brazilian touches in a doo-wop song, sung by a gossamer-voiced French singer isn’t something you hear everyday. The fact that it’s just one of the little gems scattered throughout this album is confirmation that Merlet is on to something here. ‘Colour Me Dark’ also mixes in another sixties genre into her sound. This time there’s a distinct beat-group flavour to the song, which adds another dimension to Merlet’s dreamy sunshine pop. ‘A Room of My Own’ is where Merlet really makes her own mark. Her layered vocals, like a ghostly apparition standing behind you, conjure up no end of images, and the combination of those haunting vocals with just a stripped-back guitar accompaniment proves that Merlet has far more to offer than the opening songs on ‘Dreaming On’ would suggest. Laetitia Sadier lends Moog and vocals to ‘Go Now!’ Sadier takes the English language parts while Merlet sings in French again, and the combination of two completely different voices works extremely well again showing that the initial thoughts of Merlet just carrying on an established sound for a new generation were not completely fair. ‘Flowers for Brian’ is yet another diversion. It’s open to debate as to who the Brian is that Merlet is singing about, but her heavenly vocals and the whole arrangement of the song brings to mind some of Brian Wilson’s later more experimental work with Van Dyke Parks. Once again Merlet has captured a dream in a song, managed to hold onto those clouds floating above her and turn her feelings into a beautiful piece of music. While it’s still obviously Marie Merlet the song is from a totally different place to the opening duo of songs on this album. The fact that the opening lines from the very next song are “Don’t worry baby” might just be coincidence, but it does reinforce that Beach Boy connection. ‘Good to You Again’ is further evidence that Merlet is capable of mixing in more unexpected influences into her work than was originally revealed. It’s another song that will take the listener to uncharted, beautiful places for the duration of the song. It’s almost like Merlet started this album off with her least experimental songs; the closing ‘Even the Stars’ is deathly slow yet just possibly the best song on ‘Dreaming On’. Once again all thoughts of Merlet simply recreating the, admittedly, appealing sounds of 60's French pop are dismissed. Here Merlet’s soundscape singles her out as a innovative artist, one that while never losing sight of the limitations of her dreamy vocal style is nevertheless willing to take chances to take her music further. It’s a fascinating way to end the album. It sounds like an old tape machine has run out of power at the very end before what sounds like a familiar click turns it off. And then it’s over. The listener is left almost in a "what was that" state and with only one option; to listen to the whole thing again. Yes, there are obvious influences at play here, sometimes so near the surface you can touch them. Yes, we will all hear many things familiar while listening to ‘Dreaming On’ but don’t pass it by. By the end of the album all thoughts this writer had of "heard it all before" had dissolved and all I wanted to do was listen to such inspiring pieces of music such as ‘Flowers for Brian’, Even the Stars’ and ‘Le Jardin Des Plantes’ again. It’s almost as if by the end of the album Marie Merlet had found her own voice and a more enthralling one just now would be hard to track down.

Track Listing:-
1 If Every Song Could Be Your He
2 Wild Child
3 Colour Me Dark
4 Comme Ferdinand Et Marianne
5 Dreamin'
6 A Room of My Own
7 Le Jardin Des Plantes
8 Go Now!
9 Flowers For Brian
10 Good To You Again
11 Even the Stars

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