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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Gigi - Maintenant (Feb 10, 2010) REVIEW

Maintenant has long since been one of my most anticipated releases for this year, but after a series of setbacks (amazon hold-ups, UK release date alterations) its only now, close to a month after i expected, that this 60s inspired masterpiece has finally reached my letterbox. The Tomlab records release is a collection of collaborative recordings made between May 2005 and August 2009 under the command of Vancouver based singer songwriter Nick Krgovich (also of NO KIDS) and engineer and producer Colin Stewart, who upon feeling inspired by the latter's acquisition of two huge vintage plate reverbs five years ago, set about recording an album at Vancouver's esteemed Hive Studios.

With the sole aim of recreating the style and inspirations behind the 60s hit parade, the duo collected contributions in one form or another from over 40 collaborators, including Owen Pallet, Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls as well as Katie Eastburn, Rose Melburg and Karl Blau. The purpose of Gigi is rooted in the member's deep respect for the 60s pop, and appears on 2010's release list as a self-described tribute to past times rather than as just another hopeful candidate for the next chart-topper.

Maintenant certainly has its flaws, indeed a large part of the album was recorded live into a two track, but in time with this album you come to appreciate, rather than discard them. For example, within such a tightly self-defined genre, variation proves difficult. You can listen comfortably through the album several times without distinguishing tracks individually, but with each rotation, Maintenant ingrains itself deeper and deeper into that part of your mind which tells you that you've known a track all your life. At 15 tracks, with each standing around the 3 minute mark, even if a track goes wrong for you, there's room for manouvre. This is an album filled with loungy instrumentation, lazy brass harmonies and sublime melody which lodges deeper than you think.

The bubblegum girl group harmonies and archaic pop piano complement the clanging of bells and rattle of 60s organs on One Woman Show ft. Joey Cook, and 2006 recording Some Second Best features the five-piece Gigi chorus heavily. But probably the two most complete and best constructed of all the arrangements are by name of No, My Heart Will Go On and Pitchfork reviewed single Strolling Past The Old Graveyard featuring once again the Gigi chorus and the incredibly talented Karl Blau respectively. The first of the two totters along with increasing intensity (as far as 60s pop can) towards a euphoric outro and bright finish, with loud proclamations that "I can't shake shake shake your loving smile" to follow an intro which balances out the other side of the coin "every day, that goes by, i die a little more." The Old Graveyard does a similar thing, but in a much more serious sense. With a stronger beat, but a far darker feel, the track deals with dark emotions within the 60s showtune frame, with the chorus line of "strolling past the old graveyard, waiting for you to come around//i might see a ghost or a hobo, but you've got me feeling like i'm bedlam bound." But one of the greatest performances Gigi has to offer is Rose Melburg's Alone At The Pier. With a hummed melody and quivering guitar strums, her stunning and essentially 60s voice is joined by finger clicks and handclaps in chorus, and heavy brass in the next verse.

Maintenant represents the kind of album that pays tribute not only to its inspirations but also to the talent of its creators. Its the kind of album that if you'd engineered, you could die proud in the knowledge of its existence. Maintenant is by no means a perfect album, but the sheer scale of hard work and dealings that Krgovich and Stewart have done over the past five years have contributed entirely to the album's release. For the ideal chillout band album, or the ultimate attempt at recycling a half-century old movement, then look no further than the link below.

Buy Maintenant on

2. The Hundredth Time (with Duffy Driediger & Ryan Peters) 
3. Dreams Of Romance (with Zac Pennington) 
5. One Woman Show (with Joey Cook) 
6. I'm Not Coming Out Tonight (with Sydney Vermont & Marissa Johnson) 
7. Some Second Best (Chorus)* BONUS TRACK 
8. I Can't Bring Myself To Smile (with Bobby Birdman & Katy Davidson) 
10. The Marquee (with Katie Eastburn) 
11. Impossible Love (Chorus) 
12. Wont Someone e Can Tell (Ryan Beattie) 
13. Someone Tell Me (with Mirah Yom Toy Zeitlyn) 
14. I'll Quit (with Owen Pallett) 
15. Neathe The Streetlights (with Nick Krgovich)

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