Imagine a catchy pop gem, carried by an androgynous and haunting voice, dancing and graceful like a soap bubble, designed as an anthem to joy. PAPOOZ’s summery sounds make their way into our ears never to leave.
Their earlier entracing hit “Ann Wants To Dance” was an extraordinary success with 10 million views on YouTube with its kitschy and summery video and over 20 million streams on Spotify and served as a kick-start for the duo, who had the simplest of goals: to make music, particularly pop, the soundtrack of their lives, out of love for guitars, but above all, to make people happy.
For RESONATE, their fourth album, which began even before the release of its predecessor, Ulysse Cottin (the brunet) and Armand Penicaut (the blond) altered their composition process for the first time, seeking the collaboration of Jesse Harris, an American songwriter known for his work with Melody Gardot, Gabi Hartman, and Norah Jones. “One day,” recalls Armand, “he said to us, “’Let’s try writing a song together.” We got into it. By the end of the day, we had recorded a piece we adored. We repeated this process for about ten days, meeting every afternoon in Ulysse’s studio, writing, playing, and recording. We had the basic structure-a beat, a bassline, a rhythm guitar-but we didn’t spend too much time harmonizing or arranging the pieces. We preferred to keep the spontaneity and energy intact, that immediate creative flow, full of freshness and sexiness.
“After composing and sketching out ten songs in Paris, the group flew to New York to meet Jesse Harris once again, continuing this fluid and laid-back composition process in his loft in the heart of Tribeca. The first song born from these new sessions for PAPOOZ was “Resonate,” a captivating ballad tinged with folk strings and celestial choirs, which would give its name to the album. Armand explains, “Ulysse and I were going through a somewhat complex period.The extensive live tour had exhausted us, my relationship was going through a crisis, and the concept of resonance was a perfect metaphor to sum up the state in which both PAPOOZ and us found ourselves. Resonance is a concept theorized by Hartmut Rosa, a German sociologist and philosopher, as a remedy for the acceleration of the world and the madness of contemporary lives. But beyond the theory, it was necessary to rediscover the magic that existed between Ulysse and me, between our lives and the band, our audience and us, to regain the energy and joy we had in composing.
“Reconnecting with the fervor of their beginnings, like a welcome resurgence, Armand and Ulysse then polished and finalized the score of songs from these writing sessions with producer Patrick Wimberly during a stay in the heart of Brooklyn. Of course, interspersed with nocturnal expeditions in the city that never sleeps. Formerly of Chairlift alongside Caroline Polachek, the duo that revolutionized pop music, Wimberly is a sought-afterproducer-he’s worked with Blood Orange, MGMT, Solange, Cola Boyy, and most recently on Lil Yatchi’s incredible rap opera. He’s a pop genius with whom the duo had been eager to work after a memorable encounter at the Villa Aperta festival at the Villa Médicis. Armand recalls, “We were overjoyed when he accepted. He cranked up the sound, pushed us to rework certain arrangements, added finesse and cohesion to the album. He helped us bring to life this somewhat conceptual and metaphorical idea of resonance without weighing down the pieces but rather polishing them, making them smoother, while retaining the spontaneity of the initial sessions, which was very important to us. Most importantly, he restored our confidence.
RESONATE is more immediate, raw while remaining melodic, melancholic and intimate, blending sentimental ballads and dance calls. The album recaptures the epic breath and the amorous nonchalance that characterized PAPOOZ’s early steps. It’s like the meeting of the amorous sweetness and California vibes of Metronomy with the psychedelic groove of MGMT.
An ideal musical atmosphere visually brought to life by Moodoïd, who handles the visual aspect of the resonance concept. From “Resonate,” with its heartfelt melancholy and haunting guitar, which opens the album, to the very funky and catchy “It Hurts Me,” from the pop-infused and groovy “Don’t YouThink It’d Be Nice” to the slow and fatal “No One Else,” the eleven tracks of the album showcase PAPOOZ’s art of venturing into rock, pop, and song, driven by their knack for melody that touches the heart, with lyrics finely crafted and delivered by the sublimely androgynous voices of Armand and Ulysse, and a joyous, stirring, and nonchalant groove that’s irresistibly infectious. All the while alternating between laughter and tears, melancholy and hedonism, ballads and dance invitations, introspection and letting go, with the same ease and spontaneity. In essence, it resonates with life in each of us.
Ulysse and Armand met fifteen years ago in the never-ending line of a Parisian Patti Smith concert. Their friendship was immediate, with afternoons spent reshaping the world, composing snippets of songs on their guitars, and endless discussions about their love for songwriting. Their enjoyable guitars drew influence from the Beatles, Beach Boys, Steely Dan, Velvet Underground, and Ry Cooder, all while approaching one of their major influences, Erlend Oye of Kings Of Convenience, and his project oscillating between pop and rock, euphoria and melancholy, The Whitest Boy Alive.
Their love for music spans across the vast landscape of Los Angeles highways, the artsy posture of New York, the psychedelia of the Summer of Love, the sophistication of post-punk, the intimacy of folk, and the flirtation with funk. A grand, hedonistic, and electric mix infused with a burst of pop and refreshing nonchalance! Active for a decade, equally at ease in the studio and on stage, they carried three albums under their belt, from the beginner, homemade, and naive “Green Juice” (2016) to the very groovy and psychedelic “Night Sketches” (2019) created with Adrien Durand of Bon Voyage Organisation, passing through “None Of This Matters Now” (2022), folk-oriented and deceptively calm. PAPOOZ has seamlessly fit into the revival of the French pop-rock scene, along with La Femme, Feu Chatterton, Catastrophe, Moodoïd, L’Impératrice, and Bon Voyage Organisation. All of these bands, fueled by the success of Phoenix, assert their influences with a relaxed attitude while exploring new frontiers with electronic elements.