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Music Review: Drunksouls – Revolution

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Perhaps what makes Revolution, the second album from eclectic French indie reggae rock band Drunksouls so revolutionary, is that its intelligent humor is lost (at least partially, if not completely) on an English-speaking audience. Some of the 16 tracks are in French. It may be chauvinistic on my part to suggest that a French band ought to sing everything in English, but it is difficult if not impossible to get the full effects of humor if you have no idea what the lyrics mean. That said, when the lyrics are in English, it becomes fairly easy to see that this is a band with an almost surreal sense of the absurdities of life. Unfortunately, it just makes the sense that you are missing something valuable because of your linguistic ignorance worse, and you begin to wonder about what you think you do understand. 

On the other hand, if you simply let the music flow, this is a band that will have you up and dancing. They have an almost hypnotic sound that contrasts with the edgier lyrical content, even when the English-only handicapped can understand them. Take a song like “Human Race.” The lyric talks about looming darkness and the vacuum of life, but the music is absolutely bouncy and joyful. In a sense, the conflict between the music and the lyric defines the conflict in the voice of the song. The blatantly un-erotic sexuality of “Lust” is another example of the same kind of contrast, although here the beat is less joyful and more insistent. Just to call a song that has a kind of sentimental pop hook “Happy Death Day” suggests the kind of ironic sensibility that defines the album.

Songs like “Africa,” “Revolution” and “The End” suggest that the band has a socially conscious political agenda as well. “Africa” begins with the joyful sounds of children playing and laughing and launches into an Afropop anthem with very dark overtones, despite its infectious rhythms. “Revolution,” on the other hand, has an almost otherworldly opening that gives way to a kind of punk rant. “The End” opens with a dark jazzy vibe that emphasizes the lyric’s darkness before merging into something with an almost spiritual quality.

In over an hour’s worth of music there really isn’t a bad track on this album. The fact that it bothers me that I can’t understand the lyrics of songs like “J’ai Fait Un Rêve,” “L’amour Diététique” and even the seemingly English-friendly titled “Sullivan Story,” is testament to how good the music is. If the music wasn’t so captivating, I more than likely wouldn’t care what those French lyrics really meant.

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