COS Reviews: ME&LP “Chez Raymond”

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ME & LP is a pretty straightforward name for a band, considering the members’ names are Matthew Embree and Lisa Papineau. Taking into consideration the duo’s respective backgrounds, Rx Bandits and Big Sir (with work on Air and M83 records as well), though, the situation becomes a little less direct. What kind of sound could be expected from mixing a member of The Sound of Animals Fighting and an ethereal vocalist/film scorer? Minimalist, restrained, and mellow probably were not the first words to come to mind, but that’s what the delightful Chez Raymond EP gives us, and as it progresses through its six tracks, it proves to be the gift that keeps on giving.

The breathy phrasing and delicate dual vocals of the first half of Chez Raymond recall the delivery style of the xx. Opener “Quatro” epitomizes this, teasing with quick guitar work, but remains stalled and distant. It’s a pleasant enough sound, but knowing the artists’ histories, it seems as if they are keeping a secret. Embree and Papineau give in and add heart later, though, each taking turns on lead. Embree’s performance on EP standout “(Bonnie Says) No Shitty Ride” is particularly (read: surprisingly) soulful. The combination of the sprightly guitar, hand claps, and cooing background vocals alongside Embree’s wailing is a refreshing break from the detached feel of the previous tracks.

Though Chez Raymond relies heavily on acoustic guitar, the eventual incorporation of sultry bass lines, occasional keys, and everything from finger snaps to infrequent, lively percussion prevents the EP from being monotonous and the odd bedfellows’ project from being uninteresting. “La Belle Tocade” presents an understated, complex soundscape that toys with organs, pattering drums, and reverb all toiling below the surface of Papineau’s surreally high vocals. It’s a strange concoction, but it works. This functions on a greater level for the EP as a whole, as it is intriguing and bursting at the seams with potential. - Caitlyn Meyer