After five years, the French psych-punk band La Femme released their highly anticipated album, Paradigmes, on April 2. The record is brimming with examinations of the United States, relationships and otherness that remains alluring throughout its nearly hour long runtime.
From an aesthetic perspective, there is no dull moment for the listener. The first song on the album, which bears the same name as the title, is a seemingly boisterous song. With closer analysis, La Femme is revealing the dark horrors of the underbelly of society, giving a more realistic take on the life thrust upon those less fortunate. Lyrics such as, “J’ai dans le ventre une boule qui me stresse, qui me possède et qui m’empêche / De voir clair dans ce monde où tout m’oppresse” translate to “I have a lump in my stomach which stresses me out, which possesses me and which prevents me / To see clearly in this world where everything oppresses me,” addresses more concrete issues of poverty and discrimination. The irony in the title sets the tone for the rest of the album to come.
La Femme invites the listener on a journey through America’s emotional landscape, from “Nouvelle-Orleans” to “Cool Colorado.” The former is a melancholy song about navigating loss and the memories associated, while adversely, “Cool Colorado” represents the emotional apathy towards the legalization of marijuana and glorification of living amongst nature. In the same way that American culture tends to romanticize the European lifestyle, this band gives a fresh take on America and what it truly means to be an outsider in the “land of the free.”
The song “Foreigner” is a coldwave break-up song, describing the perspective of a forgotten love interest. The song will resonate with anyone who has been on the losing side of an unrequited love. Furthermore, it describes the struggles of a foreigner being exoticized then quickly cast aside, “You fuck this guy without a condom, a D.J. or whatever / And I am sick of that, I got to moving around like a foreigner.” This song speaks volumes about the fine line between celebrating an individual’s heritage and fetishizing their otherness for self-gratification.
It’s crucial to note that not all songs on this album are mere social commentary. “Foutre le bordel” is a call-to-action, a classic punk-rock solution to dismantling all aspects of an unjust society. Similarly, “Disconnexion” is a fast-paced warning about the limitations of trusting nihilist thought and tragic philosophers. If what we desire is a society that values us as individuals, we must act accordingly.
This album takes place in a multidimensional space. La Femme was able to capture all aspects of American history — the beauty, the loss, the oppression all carefully placed in a melting pot of sorts. As a society, we choose to hope, rather than taking an introspective moment to recognize the chaos surrounding us and how we got here in the first place.
Essential Tracks: “Foutre le bordel” and “Le jardin”