French indie pop meets British 1990s on UTO’s great new album with a very long title.

We included UTO’s highly successful debut album, “Touch the Lock”, in our Best Albums of 2022. The French duo has now released their new record, titled “When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire.”

This phrase, taken from Bill Callahan’s song “Sycamore,” symbolizes for the band both the desire to be something and the notion of being focused only on a part of a greater whole that one does not see (“the fire part of the fire”). Fire also serves as an analogy for their approach to creating music.

Particularly influenced by the Anglo-Saxon scene of the 1990s/2000s and the blending of styles, Emile and Neysa indeed concoct a bubbling – if not crackling – blaze where feverish rhythms, haunting melodies, and delicate electronic details intermingle, with a bizarre psychedelic tint somewhere between a hippie campfire and sizzling alien technology.

To be convinced, one only needs to listen to the three superb singles released in advance: the distorted trip-hop of “2MOONS” with its irresistible chorus, the breakbeat mangled by glitches of “Zombie,” and the industrial drum and bass of “Art&Life.”

Everything here exudes the eclectic “Big Beat” British style of the ’90s, filtered through the French indie pop – from the muted grooves of Portishead to the hyperactive electronics of Aphex Twin, via the classy Britpop style of The Verve.

And although some melodic and rhythmic lines might feel oddly too rigid compared to the aforementioned tracks to be a true wildfire out of control, the rest of the album complements this leading trio with some well-crafted sonic atmospheres (“Napkin,” “Unshape”).

In any case, there are enough good ideas on “When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire” to confidently say that we are burning with anticipation to see what comes next.

Stream “When all you want to do is be the fire part of fire” LP on Spotify.


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