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Tako Tsubo (or “octopus trap” in Japanese) is the name for the Broken heart syndrome. It’s an upheaval of the senses, an emotional burnout… With this title it is not surprising that the band calls the album a breakup album. But despite all the emotional depths, the groove on “Tako Tsubo” is not neglected. L’Impératrice has certainly kept their taste for seductive dance grooves with virtuoso bass, vintage synths and glittery melodies.

As for the elegance of the production, L’Impératrice has again teamed up with Renaud Letang (Jarvis Cocker, Liane La Havas, Feist), with Neal Pogue (Outkast, Stevie Wonder, Tyler the Creator) adding his craftsmanship to the mixing.

If “Tako Tsubo” marks a break, it is also because the second album of L’Impératrice questions the world in which we live, the headwinds that animate it, these standards that have only faded: those who impose social networks or success (Tombée pour la scène); those that must be observed to write a song (L’équilibriste) or dance (Voodoo?).

There’s also the sublime ‘Submarine’, one of the most recently written songs that questions the idea that we’re required to be endlessly happy, projecting aesthetically perfect lives online. Musically it’s built upon deep major seventh chords that are as welcome as a warm bath; lyrically it’s a celebration of fragility. It’s also up-to-date enough to reference the purgatory of lockdown.

L’Impératrice has not lost her sense of lightness and interprets a sarcastically scathing ode to feminity ‘Peur des filles’ in a feminist thriller, with accuracy and wittiness.

Perhaps most surprising is the deep exploration of the avenues of the heart, and in particular, the left ventricle. Ambivalent love, euphoria, sorrow and madness: so many symptoms which, taken together, suggest a bad dose of “Tako Tsubo”. It’s a syndrome that leaves the heart damaged, submerged, swollen. And more alive than ever.

Photo: Gabrielle Riouah