Belgian duo Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are acutely aware of how difficult it can be to navigate your way through a world that seems determined to drag you down. Between the corrosive effects of everyday racism and misogyny, to the breakdown of our social discourse, they could have been forgiven if the negativity of it all had dragged them under. Rejoice, then, that their debut album has arrived bursting with positive energy; ‘Topical Dancer’ is a triumphant middle finger to the people that need to see it the most.
The pair met in 2016 when they were invited by Belgian musical royalty Soulwax to take part in a soundtrack project. They immediately hit it off, and within a week they had written ‘La Falaise’, their first EP together. That 2017 release and its 2019 follow-up, the ‘Zandoli’ EP, were released under Adigéry’s name exclusively, but now, after a period of soul-searching, the Ghent-based musicians decided that this first full-length should be credited to them as equals.
‘Topical Dancer’ is defined by its caustic sense of humour. On ‘Esperanto’, Adigéry sings, “Don’t say, ‘Nice pair’ / Say, ‘I love the symmetry of you’”. It’s just one of the album’s many one-liners that are laugh-out-loud funny, while smartly describing the toxicity of social media. The music itself matches the humour of the lyrics, with bouncy synth lines and skittering beats that seem to tee up the jokes before Adigéry delivers the punchline. The song decries the absence of nuance in the way that we communicate, acknowledging the absurdity of the topic while not pretending to be a quick fix.
‘Blenda’ deals with post-colonial racism in Belgium with the same lightness of touch. “Go back to your country where you belong / Siri, can you tell me where I belong?”, Adigéry sings, before mocking the achingly obvious shortfall in the logic behind such bigotry: “I am here because you were there.” Adigéry and Pupul tackle the bleakest of subject matter with defiance, while conjuring astral disco arrangements that recall the likes of LoneLady or Jane Weaver.
This playfulness also stretches to ‘Ceci N’Est Pas un Cliché’, which began as a list of every cringeworthy song lyric the duo had ever heard (“I was walking down the street / When I woke up early this morning…”). On album closer ‘Thank You’, Adigéry throws every condescending piece of ‘advice’ she’s ever received back in the faces of the men that have sought to take credit for her success.
Adigéry and Pupul don’t need any help with their success, thank you. With ‘Topical Dancer’, they have created an album that works just as well as the soundtrack to a killer house party as it does a necessary act of rebellion against the negative forces in our society.
- Release date: March 4
- Record label: Deewee
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