Exils by CORINNE BOULAD captures the anxiety of feeling unsure about your place in your home or the world. The speaker wrestles with whether to leave or stay using a monotone delivery. This choice allows emotion to peek through in every lyric. The subdued delivery and emotionally fraught backing track reminded me of Fitter Happier by Radiohead, not just sonically but also thematically.
The foundations of the melody are these intertwining keyboard parts that swirl and overlap as the piece continues, building in intensity and complexity from the beginning. A deep register melody plays as the song evolves, contrasting the original. They play off each other, elevating their differences through the juxtaposition. I think these differences also build tension that adds to the emphasis and power of the lyrics.
However, the lyrics define the tone of the piece. It feels like the speaker is aware of the inconsistencies and malicious actions in modern society and is unsure whether to engage with them out of love for the people around her and hope for what it could be or run away and reject society. It does not feel like they conflict with a single culture or ideal. Lines like “Au diable drapeaux et frontières, qu’on m’y accueille à bras ouverts” or “To hell with flags and borders, let them greet me with open arms” feel as if the speaker is rejecting the concepts of nations entirely, throwing it all away because of the “rançonneurs” or extortionists at their helm. The back and forth of the spoken word makes the song interesting. You can feel the sense of division at the core of our speaker’s identity. She is not saying “I might stay” but “Je reste,” “I’m staying.”
Whether they leave is part of what makes them who they are. The song thrives in this personal struggle.
Listening to something experimental, bold, and artistic is always impressive. However, Exils’ raw focus on staying true to itself defines it.