French electronic musician Fragrance. was one of my favorite new artists of 2019. On Friday, he released Salt Water, his second full-length album.
On Salt Water, Fragrance. deepens his exploration of dark, sensual songcraft. He’s equally adept at delivering thoughtful, melodic choruses on pre-release single “Covered in Gold” as he is at whispering narcotic one-liners like “Mesmerized” on opening track banger “Forevermore.”
Fragrance.’s music lies somewhere in a desolate, smoke-filled void between synthpop and the mysterious, hypnotic electro that is the trademark of record label Synth Religion. His label mates include Minuit Machine and Hante.
The album’s title, Salt Water, is an unusual choice that likely refers to the lonely depths of the sea. At one point he sings “For a year or more, dead in the water,” and final track “A Million Replays” closes the album with the sounds of waves crashing the shore. But it may also refer to emotional depths, particularly the sadness of one’s tears—there’s a running theme of loss and despair that spans the entire album.
There are many great moments on Salt Water, but I’m particularly drawn to energetic cuts “Bind Me Up With Your Flesh,” which tops a thumping beat with playful keys, and last year’s single “Crisis,” which features thrilling TR/ST style arpeggios and the anthemic line, “You will dance your pain away.”
Fragrance. is French artist Matthieu Roche. He made his debut in 2019 with the throbbing, sensual sounds of Now That I’m Real, one of my favorite albums of the year. It included the tracks “So Typical” and “Crawling to the Void.”
Salt Water tracklisting and cover art
Here’s the album’s tracklisting and the cover art:
- Attiré Par Le Chaos
- Covered In Gold
- Twisted Way
- Bind Me Up With Your Flesh
- The Cure (feat. Lulannie)
- Love Bites
- A Million Replays