Benoit Pioulard: Atmospheric Wizardry

Benoit Pioulard i i

In "Lasted," Benoit Pioulard writes like a Classics major and sings with the warmth and conviction of a true romantic. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist
Benoit Pioulard

In "Lasted," Benoit Pioulard writes like a Classics major and sings with the warmth and conviction of a true romantic.

courtesy of the artist

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Lasted"
  • Artist: Benoit Pioulard
  • CD: Lasted
  • Genre: Folk-Pop

Benoit Pioulard finds beauty in the raw and corroded. Since the mid-'90s, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter (whose real name is Thomas Meluch) has captured his wistful lo-fi recordings on junk-shop stereos, old Dictaphones and cheap four-track machines. On his new album Lasted, though, Pioulard has ratcheted up his studio ambitions with tunes that are rooted in folk but beefed up with sublime atmospheric wizardry.

The title track is the album's centerpiece: a dark, mysterious ballad with cascading guitar lines, piercing Sonic Youth-style harmonics, reverb-dunked finger snaps and lush synthesizer drones. But Pioulard's gentle baritone gives "Lasted" broader pop appeal — a somber timbre that evokes his fellow Pacific Northwesterner, Elliott Smith.

Lyrically, Pioulard writes like a Classics major — "Lasted" concerns the Greek muse of sacred poetry, Polyhymnia. Inscrutable, sure, but even when he's singing clinical lyrics ("Transcendent and stable, while it lasted / Drawn from the former, given to the latter"), he does so with the warmth and conviction of a true romantic.

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