I have tried to review this record many times. I failed all the previous times, I probably will this time as well. Yesterday night I carried my senseless body to a Call Me Loretta show. One more. I have listened to Scars too many times to review it coldly. Every Call Me Loretta show starts in a religious atmosphere while Sébastien plays the infamous Monty Python excerpt through a small tape player amplified by his guitar's microphones. "I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me Loretta *rewind noise* ...from now on I want you all to call me Loretta." And then Stephanie starts playing the guitar and Leafless Mind kicks in. Leafless Mind is growing into an anthem. For me at least. I'm pretty sure that when I'm older this song will bring sad memories to my mind. Because everything is bound to end. There is no such thing as sweet nostalgia.
Call Me Loretta is an indie rock noisy pop band from Toulouse, France. France has never been known as a nice place for Indie rock. I'm pretty sure that "French indie rock" sounds funny for quite a lot of people. And there are a lot of bands showing that these laughs are legitimate. Here it is not the case : Call Me Loretta have succeeded in melting typical French melancholy with noisy guitars. In English.
They didn't play Harmacy yesterday. When they released this ep last year they had already been playing news songs for a while. They recorded it a year before releasing it because they didn't have enough money to press the cds. And now they mostly play new songs.
Let me describe. First of all there is Stephanie, the singer/guitarist. She sings in a detached and moving way, with a soft voice while she gently plays her guitar. Then there is Sébastien who plays the guitar and sings sometimes. He's the one who moves more than the others. He's the one who makes all the noise. Then there is Delphine who plays the bass guitar in a very shady way, perfectly doing her job, and Matthieu. Matthieu is the one who's not dressed in black. He plays the drums and his style is what is holding the band together. I don't think Call Me Loretta would be as exciting with another drummer. There's a frustration that's put on and it wouldn't work without his delicately firm drumming.
The main reason why French indie bands never really get successful is because of the language. If you sing in English and want to be noticed you have to be better than the bands playing in the UK or the US. In that respect Call Me Loretta have sharp knives to defend themselves. The lyrics are clearly above the average, passionate and never obvious. Harmacy is the darkest song on the ep. The innocent melody turns it into one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. A month before, holding on to my sore skin / Trying to reassure people with a grin / Parents dealing with farewell look and icy shade / Then, blank stare to make the pain book out and fade / Others screamed, I forgot the endless din / Ready to sleep forever in this sea-green inn.
Catching Me Back vs. Outlet
for Vanity is a sad duet featuring Stéphanie and Sébastien exchanging
words, Stephanie singing, softer than ever and Sébastien, speaking in a neutral
voice. It's not as desperate as Harmacy, it's about a couple breaking up,
realizing that it's over, trying to cope with the ambivalent feelings emerging
form such a situation. It starts with this painfully cynic line :
her : Do you think of me sometimes ?
him : Dullness is part of my daily life
...and ends with Stéphanie singing "Release me" over and over again, possessed by desperate helplessness.
The last song is the band's only song in French. French is far from being an easy language to write a song with. You often end up sounding either stupidly bare or roughly literal. you have to find the balance between the two sides and it's far from being easy to do. Vague à Larmes is delicate and never sounds awkward. It closes the ep with a storm of noisy guitars. They used to close their shows with this song, sampling and playing the same guitar parts over and over again, quickly building a sonic wall brick after brick only to make it collapse a few seconds after.
Call Me Loretta have recorded their debut album this summer and are waiting until they get enough money to release it. Until then, Scars and the Tarnished Angels 7" released earlier this year make a perfect soundtrack for Winter depression.
/dec 1st 2002/