Grand Prix Benjamin Biolay

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  • 1Comment est ta peine ?05:03
  • 2Visage pâle04:15
  • 3Idéogrammes03:47
  • 4Comme une voiture volée04:02
  • 5Vendredi 1203:58
  • 6Grand prix05:20
  • 7Papillon Noir04:35
  • 8Ma route04:28
  • 9Virtual Safety Car02:48
  • 10Où est passée la tendresse ?03:38
  • 11La roue tourne04:46
  • 12Souviens-toi l’été dernier03:34
  • 13Interlagos (Saudade)04:43
  • Total Runtime54:57

Info for Grand Prix

Grand Prix is essentially a concept album. Written as an homage to women and cars, Grand Prix explores the life of a high-flyer. As something a high-flyer himself, the concept really isn't far removed from the life that the actor, singer and songwriter himself lives and the honesty within the lyrics echoes the reality of the experiences explored.

While the album does pick up on the musical leanings of its predecessor, vocally Benjamin is at his very strongest. Taking on an almost Iggy Pop-esque presence, there is a little extra charisma to his crooning, which really lifts the album to a new and interesting level.

Grand Prix still has the nostalgic feel of his former records, and while there are hints of a late 80s influence, Grand Prix also has a strong Brit-Pop vibe to it, which only serves to heighten its appeal.

"France's Benjamin Biolay left behind his provocative Buenos Aires cycle after two acclaimed albums, Palermo Hollywood in 2016 and the platinum-certified Volver in 2017). Grand Prix is nostalgic and unquestionably autobiographical. Its title references Formula 1 racing's excitement, drama, heroes, and tragedies. "Grand Prize" artfully contrasts racing with his own life experiences and the sacrifices he's made in pursuit of art. Of course his romantic life plays a major part: Ex-wife Chiara Mastroianni makes two guest appearances, former lover Keren Ann makes another, and current girlfriend, actress Anaïs Demoustier, assists on two others. The younger Biolay loved the Smiths, Happy Mondays, New Order, and the Strokes and he pays homage to them all and more, with a small band, analog synths, complete guitar and drum takes, and live vocals in songs that caress elements of Krautrock, post-punk, Brit-and electro-pop, Euro-disco, chanson, and MPB.

Single "Comment Est Ta Peine," with Demoustier, opens with a disco-phonic synth similar to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." However, the organic drums, sharp, funky guitars, and rigid bassline are adamantly rockist. Biolay's lyrics enquire about his lover's existential pain, contrasting it egotistically and ironically with his own. Mastroianni appears on the poignant yet hooky "Visage Pâle," where Biolay claims with too much protestation that "I have less appetite than sincerity/Love has a price that I can no longer pay…." On "Comme Une Voiture Volée," guitars ring with longing and excitement (think M83!) as drums and swirling synths propel the mix up and out. His lyrics offer only longing: "My heart is like an old engine when you lift the bonnet. You're as beautiful as a stolen car.…" The chanson ballad "Vendredi 12" questions a lost lover's memories while betraying the depths of his own abjection and loneliness. The title track is introduced by a nostalgic organ and distinctly "French rock" dancefloor beat. It's an uptempo elegy for Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi, who died from his racing injuries at age 24. For "Papillon Noir," with Demoustier, he channels New Order's dancefloor rock beautifully. Again, despite the joy in the mix, his lyrics are resigned to always being in a temporary place when it comes to love: "I am an evening visitor, I am the vestiges of the dark sun/I am the night watchman, I am the bizarre boy...who has nothing to do/I am your only alibi, your temporary libido…." Closer "Interlagos (Saudade)" touches on the 1994 death of Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senn, then revels in Biolay's own tears, joys, and small victories; it's a dreamy lament, complete with choirs, strings, and shuffling percussion, elevated by the presence of his daughter Anna (credited as "Bambi") on backing vocals. Ultimately, Grand Prix is Biolay's finest album since 2009's La Superbe, if not his best overall, and is easily his most revealing and vulnerable. No longer the enfant terrible of modern chanson, the singer, songwriter, and producer is now one of France's most evocative -- and necessary -- artists." (Thom Jurek, AMG)

Benjamin Biolay

Benjamin Biolay
Often compared to the legendary Serge Gainsbourg, singer/songwriter/arranger Benjamin Biolay is less apt to call on a Brigitte Bardot or Françoise Hardy to sing his songs when he can do it just as well himself, although Gainsbourg did often duet with his protégées, most notably Jane Birkin on the scandalous international hit "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus." Not that the handsome, honey-voiced Biolay hasn't worked with a few female vocalists on occasion; for instance, his younger sister Coralie Clément, who has at times been compared to Hardy and Birkin. Biolay arranged and wrote most of the songs on her 2001 debut Salle des Pas Perdus (which was released in the U.S. in 2002). Biolay is also a renaissance man of French chanson, whether he is extending the tradition as a songwriter, as on his 2007 Trash Yeye, paying tribute to the great singers and songwriters of the past, as on 2015's Trenet, or re-visioning tango and Latin American cumbia as 21st century French pop for Palmero Hollywood. This former enfant terrible of song has evolved into a respected, award-winning producer without a shred of compromise. As such, he possesses a keen ear for showcasing the talents of iconic singers such as Coralie Clément and Keren Ann, while adding previously unheard dimensions to the music of others (Vanessa Paradis).

Biolay was born in Villefranche-sur-Saône, France in 1973. His father was a clarinet player and member of the local orchestra. Biolay played the violin as a young man, going on to study the instrument at the Lyons Conservatoire. Over the years, his musical interests would grow to encompass classical (Mozart, Beethoven), American pop (Chuck Berry, the Beatles), and traditional French music (Trenet). From the violin, he moved on to the tuba, trombone, guitar, and piano. When he was 13, he discovered Gainsbourg's "Histoire de Melody Nelson," which would have a big influence on his own concept recording (2001's Rose Kennedy). From his teens through his early twenties, Biolay was a member of several groups, including Wind? and Mateo Gallion. The latter released a CD in 1994, which had little impact. In 1996, he was signed as a solo artist to EMI, but his initial singles met with little success. Then, in 1999, he met Keren Ann Zeidel (aka Keren Ann), with whom he composed the 2000 French hit "Jardin D'hiver" for Henri Salvador's comeback album Chambre Avec Vue. He would go on to collaborate with Keren Ann on Biographie de Luka Philipsen (2000) and La Disparition (2002). In some form or another, Biolay has also worked with Hubert Mounier (aka Cleet Boris), Isabelle Boulay, Françoise Hardy, and Jane Birkin. ... (Kathleen C. Fennessy, AMG)

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