here's a certain breed of post-millennial electronic chanteuse, apparently wanting nothing more than a place on yuppie party soundtracks next to the glug-glug of wine and the austere silence of IKEA, that often winds up best suited for playing while lying on one's back staring at the ceiling on a Sunday afternoon. One's mind wanders and the music is half-forgotten—which, unfortunately, is the likely fate of the debut solo album of representative post-millennial electronic chanteuse Lisa Papineau. A veteran of the similarly mellow Big Sir and the surprisingly rocking Pet, as well as an occasional guest vocalist for Air and M83, Papineau seems to strive on Night Moves for absolute minimalism—for a mature abandonment of excess electronic whooshing. It sounds promising on paper but in practice reduces much of the material here to Imogen Heap-style guilty pleasures, sans some of the guilt and most of the pleasure.
Papineau's a good singer—her Belinda Butcherisms on M83's Before the Dawn Heals Us were as ethereal and unintelligible as they should have been—but her material on Night Moves doesn't allow her to distinguish herself. Hookless songs like "What Are We Waiting For?" don't afford Papineau a chance to do much more than exhale tastefully (and it doesn't help that the lyrics—"What are we waiting for? / One thing then one more"—could be used to teach a 101 class on the fine line between simple, unexpected poetry and stating the obvious); and "Shucking, Jiving," the record's obligatory Edgy Track, drenches her voice in constipated filters past the point of listenability.
It isn't all like this. The minimalist approach works on lazily catchy album opener "Out to You," where Papineau's subtleties as a vocalist are well-showcased—the entire song is about the way she swoops delicately into the chorus—and "LP Beat" has the grace the rest of the album lacks: all flattened beats and sunrise-over-seascape romanticism, it really does sound as if M83's wall of synths has been deemed unnecessary and dismantled, leaving nothing but a foundation and Papineau's voice. But most of the songs simply aren't strong enough for such nakedness. It was brave of Papineau to try this, and she has a commitment to craft that sets her apart from her breathy, monotonous peers, but the fact is that on most of Night Moves she sounds just like them—and that may be all right for lying on your back, but when you get up you'll soon be playing something else.