At the beginning of November, Klô Pelgag, one of Quebec’s up-and-coming artists, released her second full-length album. L’étoile thoracique was my introduction to this promising artist, and I have not yet had time to delve into her debut due to the depth of music to digest on this new record. This symphonic piece of pop is beautiful and distinct, but while I think Klô Pelgag is showing tremendous potential, there is definitely room for improvement on L’étoile thoracique.
Let’s start with what makes L’étoile thoracique a truly special album. At the forefront of every song is Klô Pelgag’s shimmering, clear voice, crying out in melodies with astounding range and creativity. Her melodies are evocative and powerful, and make an excellent focal point for the record. The next most important factor is the delicate and sharp piano or guitar playing that most often forms the foundation which Klô Pelgag explores with her voice. Swirling around the primary melody and accompaniment are deftly arranged orchestral tones which are invoked and removed at just the right moments to accent the emotionality of each song. It’s the strings and choral harmonies that immediately set L’étoile thoracique apart from other albums, and these combined with Pelgag’s unique sense of melody give her a sound that won’t quickly be mistaken.
Another note of excellence on L’étoile thoracique is one for the French-speaking listeners out there. Klô Pelgag’s lyrics are remarkably poetic, although often somewhat morose. Beneath the gorgeous and (mostly) peaceful tone of her songs lurks a sense of frustration, struggle, and fatigue. Many of the tension found in dissonant runs by the string section echo these feelings as they bubble to the surface and are then subdued. Seeing as the bulk of music that is released is in English, L’étoile thoracique is a real treat for French-speakers with a fondness for poetry.
Where I really see room for growth in Klô Pelgag’s music is in the sense of cohesiveness of the album as a whole, which I consider a factor that can really make or break an album. The songs on L’étoile thoracique certainly work together, and are distributed in such a way as to avoid repetition, but I don’t get the feeling that I am being taken on a voyage from start to finish. Each song seems to stand on its own, and only when one finishes can the next one begin. This, in turn, reduces some of the emotional impact of her music. Instead of being taken for a ride and connecting with a single entity, I feel as though I must continually reset and switch gears, and as a result I do not connect with the album in the same way as other favourites. For many listeners this will not be an issue whatsoever, and those listeners I think will adore this record.
Klô Pelgag’s L’étoile thoracique is yet another dynamic and unique exploration of sound coming out of Canada, and one that I highly recommend. However, I think her masterpiece is yet to come (unless her masterpiece is her debut album, which, as I noted above, I have not heard yet). Check her out and keep a close eye on her, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.