Strong Debut for French Artist
Fishbach is the artist name for Flora Fishbach, a French singer and songwriter. She began to attract attention after her first EP Fishbach was released. The stand-out track “Mortel” helped her gain critical acclaim. When she first broke onto the scene, critics praised her for being the “renouveau” of French rock music. Her debut album À ta merci is a passionate display of her talents.
Fishbach’s strong vocal delivery shines on every track. Comparisons can be drawn to fellow French singer Charlotte Gainsbourg and her latest album, Rest. Both artists play in a specific musical style that’s very synth-heavy and incorporate some darker themes. Like Gainsbourg, Fishbach’s big reverby vocals carry a lot of emotional weight. The production is sharp on this album. With a range of influences, the music feels like ’70s soft rock and ’80s synth pop all with a modern take and crisp sounds. The tracks are produced up with great detail.
Fishbach treads in the most accessible indie-rock territory on “Eternité.” A steady beat belies Fishbach’s energetic vocals. “Un beau langage” is a slow, romantic ballad that blends beautiful melodies with a warm production underneath. The sparkly synth lines add so much delicious texture and warmth to the mix. Fishbach gives her prettiest vocal performance on the entire record.
On “Feu” Fishbach starts to get a little experimental. This track features some spooky, dissonant sounds. A darkly-tinged vocal melody challenges the listener’s ears. It all adds up to a very spacey feel thanks to the big layers of synth and reverbed guitars. Even with the sonic reach into some more progressive territories, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of Fishbach’s artistry. Each song onÀ ta merci has a little taste of experimentation and makes appeals to musical dissonance. The title track near the end of the album is the barest in terms of instrumentation. What it lacks in layers of production though, it makes up for in its beautiful chord progression and stirring vocals. A slightly distorted guitar and some quiet bell tones accompany Fishbach on this soft ballad.
Other tracks on the record can be less memorable. There are times where Fishbach and her team seem to be running with not strong enough of an idea and the production that follows is uninteresting. There are also tracks that feel as if they were in the studio just experimenting with how much reverb they could pack on to every sound. Additionally, the instances within some songs where Fishbach swaps out the signature chromatic chord movements for something that’s a more typical pop progression are where the tracks become most accessible and pleasant to listen to. In these cases, the arrangement and style are most reminiscent of ABBA, a praiseworthy comparison.
Overall, À ta merci shows the breadth of Fishbach’s musical style. It is a solid debut album for an artist poised for much more success in her career.