Le Prince Miiaou: Fill the Blank with Your Own Emptiness
Maud-Élisa Mandeau – aka Le Prince Miiaou - is no stranger to Rockfort and the arrival of her third album is a cause for celebration. Her second (and first proper release) 'Safety First 'was a striking, home-made set that rattled emotionally through gender politics, the frustrations of never being satisfied and a bleak outlook that instead of depressing, uplifted with its observational power. Second time out, none of the impact has been lost.
'Fill the Blank with Your Own Emptiness' has a fuller, less spiky sound than 'Safety First', but the soft-loud dynamic and a jarring song structures remain. She still loves a noisy guitar. The filled-out instrumentation hasn’t diminished the effect, but instead enhances it. Opening cut 'J’ai Deux Yeux' is bedded in tribal drums with strings and a chorale weaving in and out. “I don’t want to see you” she sings. 'Be Silent's massed multi-track backing vocals reach towards gospel. 'A Story of Devotion' shares the gospel approach, almost a rock answer to current-model Lykke Li. The mostly solo 'I Don’t Know My Name' is about as affecting as it gets: “I want to kiss the birds, rub my secrets on their feathers… do the pigeons know how bad this is”. The album’s core is the two-part title track. Part I is ambient, like a radio test tone. Part II starts as a drifting echo-ey guitar instrumental infused with gentle strings, then suddenly explodes “now you’re gone I feel the blank”.
Again, musically, Le Prince Miiaou doesn’t refer do anything else in France right now. Totally assured, this terrific album should attract attention at home. It’d be fine if it did elsewhere too.
© Kieron Tyler