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A Petit Feu

by Ben Popp

Released 2014
Le Chant Des Possibles
Released 2014
Le Chant Des Possibles
Catchy rocking pop tunes
Veteran French singer-songwriter Ben Popp recently self-released A Petit Feu, his most recent EP, via his own Le Chant Des Possibles label. The new 6-song EP continues to showcase his penchant for super-catchy power-pop and swaggering British Invasion-style rock. Additionally, Ben sings in French which lends a classy, mysterious and melancholic air to the music for many of his foreign listeners. However, the clever riffs, driving rhythms and poppy melodies do not get lost in translation, as you will find yourself humming along and tapping your toes in total agreement.
Opening the EP is the jangly cascading guitars, swells of thick vintage organ and propulsive rhythm of “Rester Jeune” which translates to “Forever Young” in English. Lyrically, the song is a relatable rumination on society’s pressure on us to be young and fresh while not having any control over the matter. The breezy “Les langues étrangères” follows with laid-back yet playful melodies, highly melodic guitar runs and a wire brush-led shuffling drum beat. The standout track sounds decidedly French and cosmopolitan-cool like some long lost late 70’s or early 80’s folk-pop nugget discovered while crate-digging in a dusty vinyl bin in the back of an old record store. Those are the best kind of discoveries and this disc could be one for many new listeners.
Next, “Ton Silence” (“Your Silence”) is built upon heavily processed guitars that create a hypnotic yet funky atmosphere that is both psychedelic and danceable; sounding like Disco music played by Pink Floyd. Lyrically, Popp plays off the old adage that “silence speaks louder than words” as musically, the song showcases the depth and ingenuity of his songwriting ability. The title track, “A Petit Feu” doesn’t quite translate as the meaning of the lyrics provided by Ben strangely has something to do with “slowly cooking somebody”. Now, I’m not sure if he really means to advocate cannibalism so it’s a good thing the bright, New Wave synth melodies and upbeat tempo are charming and catchy enough to forget what is or isn’t being said. “Tout est éphémère” - or “Nothing Lasts Forever” in English - is a much too-short folk-tinged pop-rock tune with a jaunty acoustic guitar-led rhythm that belies the melancholic melodies and lyrical sentiment at its core.
Before you are ready, the EP closes out with the appropriately-titled track, “Lolita”, as Popp pays musical tribute to Nabokov's classic book of the same name with slinky blues-rock riffs complete with smoldering guitar leads throughout and a fast-paced vocal cadence for another standout moment.
With his outstanding latest release, the A Petit Feu EP, French power-pop purveyor Ben Popp has created a catchy and cohesive set of pop-leaning rock songs with a nostalgic yet modern sound that defies language barriers.

Reviewed by: Justin Kreitzer

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