Jarvis Cocker – Paroles Paroles Review

Written by on 8th October 2021

Image Credit: UMC Records

Where Aline was the pitch-perfect romp through the passions of France, Jarvis Cocker’s latest track, Parole Parole, is the confirmation that his French-language album is on course to deliver solid results. His announcement of Chanson’s D’ennui Tip Top was worrying, not just because a man from Sheffield would be covering Christophe, but because the ambition of the project is extremely bold for such a niche genre. Chamber pop tracks from the heart, deeply layered with passion and intricate themes of romance. Paroles Paroles presents itself as a suitable pop track for a Dior advert, and it is that acknowledgement and pace that makes it such a fascinating song. 

Cocker takes a backseat on this track, a delightfully melodic track that suits the lounge music sub-genre surprisingly well. It is that blend of near spoken-word ramblings from Cocker and the pop-orientation of Sadier that make Paroles Paroles so magnanimous to the power struggle at the heart of this song. Alain Delon and Dalia’s classic is covered with great respect for the pace and tone found in the original. That titular repetition from Sadier is timed beautifully with the enchanting violin and the spoken-word styling of Cocker’s laborious efforts. Sadier outshines him here, although that feels like the intended outcome. Handing Cocker the slower, beat-driven chattiness of B-Side oddity His ‘n’ Hers or Discosong (You’re in My Eyes) steers this track clear of any problematic pitfalls but does little to kindle a real love for the spirit of France’s finest tracks. 

But Paroles Paroles is not as emotionally involved as Aline. Sadier and Cocker both express their lyrics well, but that desire and agony found in the repetition of the eponymous word are not as effective. Its chamber pop charm does not linger for all that long, and while the tonal contrast between Sadier and Cocker is well defined but does not take off until the first rendition of the chorus. It still sounds magnificent and elicits the right tone for the upcoming album, but something is missing. Not heart, not timbre or lyric, but something explosive. Aline offered a slow build and an incredible crescendo, but Paroles Paroles patters out with little else other than its violins screeching away as the love rips away at the dialogue-driven track.  

The weaker of the Chanson’s D’ennui Tip Top singles so far, but it is a high bar to set so early. Paroles Paroles is focused on its vocals and the power struggle that appears through the layering of Cocker and Sadier. It is nicely tuned. Bombastic adaptations of classic French tracks are hard to perfect, and while their efforts here are not perfect, they are not without their merits either. An extremely solid song, and it does little to deflate the upcoming release of the Wes Anderson-produced album. Renounce the Delon and Dalia classic, because as Cocker and his handbook of quip and quote-worthy French phrases shine through, the Chanson’s D’ennui Tip Top project comes together with unsurprising coolness and a strong bravado that’ll surely infect the remaining tracks.  

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