Sisyphes - Deviant Pop (Album Review)

The word 'Sisyphean' means to continue doing something even though it is futile and is derived from the Greek legend of Sisyphus, who had to fruitlessly push a boulder up a hill for eternity. Sisyphes, a musical group from the coastal town of Margate, UK, have no such trouble and effortlessly reach impressive heights on their debut album Deviant Pop. Composed of guitarist and songwriter Geoffrey Papin (La Houle), Clémentine Blue (Tiger Lion), John Davies (Traams) and Jimi Tormey (Gang), the title of this album is fitting. The eight songs on the collection twist the group's pop sensibilities into an arty and academically informed concoction of avant pop, French synthwave, and shoejazz (a portmanteau of shoegaze and jazz this writer just coined to describe their sound). Mostly sung 'en francais', the tracks are admirably discrete, gently inviting the listener into their incidentally rich world as opposed to breaking down the door to your attention span. 

Unquestionably, there is a sweetness to the group's musical palette, and intense moments of forward-thinking art rock are offset by more melodically innocent tunes. This is evidenced by the dynamic opening track, "Nos Egos", which switches between romantic melodies, arpeggiated synth solos, and an epic post rock sound that is both psychedelic and progressive. This is also the case for the gentle "Comète", with its hazy atmospherics and auto-tuned vocals being an interesting, if not unfocused, dreamlike auditory experiment. This balance of the tangible and abstract is the fulcrum on which Sisyphes operate. 

The steadfast percussion of "Hispanie"' carries woozy guitar chords and beguiling male/female harmonies towards a memorable bi-lingual chorus. "La Lassitude", perhaps the snappiest track here, illustrates how the group can fuse nonchalant attitudes with their more stony-faced style. Despite residing in stiff Britain, the group still exude all the cool of a Parisian cafe. You can take the person out of France, but you can't take France out of the person. 

"Samsāra" draws inspiration from India and how its people approach the concept of death. In an interview with Turtle Tempo, Papin shares that while travelling in India, he was inspired by how death was seen as "a way to elevate yourself". This results in a track that is seriously celebratory and celebratorily serious. Elsewhere, 8-bit sounds decorate the playful indie rock of "Nos Regrets", and the 90s college radio sound of "Tu m'indiffères" brilliantly juxtaposes its huge riff with more measured verses. Yet perhaps the closing track, "Surreal Art, is the real highlight of Deviant Pop, with its stylish psychedelic pop capable of intoxicating even the strictest of teetotallers. 

These atmospheric tracks exist somewhere between the physical and astral planes. Their grounded rhythms act as a body for translucent musical brushstrokes and give birth to a therianthrope which is both relaxing and exhilarating to ride.