Summer of 2008 my family decided to take a trip to Mexico (something about timeshare), and I remember the trip quite vividly as I had just turned 17 a couple weeks before setting off and I had also just fallen madly in love. Walking around the shopping district of Playa del Carmen I remember feeling lost, a bit lovesick but overall pleasantly happy with the way things had turned out. And then from the midst of the sea of tourism and absurd fiesta music I heard the most beautiful song of my young life coming from a shop down the road. You know when all at once you see or hear or smell something that solidifies your identity thus far? You see an imaginary timeline appear in front of your eyes and you can pinpoint that moment – that a change has occurred, and you’ve stumbled upon something that will forever be a constant motif in your life? That’s what I heard.
Mathieu Boogaerts is, in a nutshell an intimate artist. His music isn’t loud but it’s distinct, it grabs your attention and lulls you into a very specific space Boogaerts has crafted to match his vision. Hailing from France, with a musical palette that ranges from reggae to french pop to a surreal melancholic twee Boogaerts brings something entirely new to the table. I know thats a repeated description of good musicians, as it should be, but I can’t pinpoint who Boogaerts reminds me of ,though his music can very easily find a place for itself in your day. It isn’t exactly easy-listening even if its easy to listen to. Like you can play it in the background of a lunch date, and it’ll work, but your attention will wander back to his music because it offers more than the easiness of sound. Instead i’d say what makes Boogaerts so special is really the feeling all his songs emit. A quiet but intricate sound of being alone and pondering about all sorts of things. You’re not really sad or happy, no, you’re focusing on the details of your life and examining the silliness of all things. Upon first listen you’d think Boogaerts is cafe music – a reasonable assumption as the entire album Super (1996) and I Love You (2008) can be taken in over a warm cup of coffee in the afternoon. There’s more here though, which is apparent with each album Boogaerts releases. In some ways I think he engages only himself when he sings, making melodies and crafting lyrics to make sense of his own dreams and passing thoughts. Being enchanted by the absurdity of everyday life and emotions while not taking himself too seriously (which comes through in the playfulness of all his tracks).
His most recent album, Mathieu Boogaerts – named after himself released last fall carries forward his signature sound, but he’s older now and somehow you can sense a tone of completion in his voice. An album that is perhaps meant to be a pure reflection of self, Boogaerts quietens down and welcomes you into his headspace again but this time to shake your hands as an artist who is not going out of his way to explore sound – but seems to have reached a comfortable place of satisfaction. ‘Avant que je m’ennuie’, the album opener sets this tone with ease and focuses the listener to prepare for an album of cozy consideration and light melody.
I bring you this wonderful artist today because on one hand I am setting off on another trip in a few days and in some ways I feel as though the girl I was 5 summers ago has finished some sort of strange lifecycle and here I am again, just having turned one year older last week, listening to ‘Ondule’ on an evening in June feeling quite strange but content. I remember the feeling of sitting behind a golf cart while driving down a Mexican villa, and I remember the lazy and lovely mixture of soaking in moments of life that really only speak to yourself – the realizations you have about the people you meet, and the places you go. I remember running into that shop and frantically asking an employee to tell me the song playing before it finished incase somehow I tragically would never find out what it was. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and I wrote the name of the artist in a smudgy scribble on a stupid tissue paper from my bag. I hope then Mr. Boogaerts can convince you that life is terrifically funny and even the most strange things need not be taken that seriously. And that all things have a way to being alright. Please contemplate in the comfort of your bed, fall asleep to this song and go walk about a street in a foreign place if you ever get the chance. Good luck.