Prie Pour Moi
The transition from martial industrial to electropop has been gradual but steady for Geoffrey D’s Dernière Volonté. The change has been apparent since at least 2006’s Devant le Miroir, each release slowly adding or repurposing moods and sounds (and jettisoning much of the fascist imagery that has landed the project in hot water) ’til the band scarcely resembles its earliest form in anything beyond a predilection for the imposing and austere. While this may have lost Geoffrey some fans amongst the neo-folk faithful, it has also made him a near unique property; beyond maybe Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, no one else inhabits the severe military pop sound quite so singularly.
Prie Pour Moi follows closely in the footsteps of predecessors Mon Meilleur Enemi and Immortel in its highly personal tone, and in the specific sounds used in its construction. The expected organs, synth bass and samplebank orchestration are all here in full force, as are the touches of French pop that have made Dernière Volonté a special quantity. First proper song “Les Rêves de Dorian” is all the primer on what the project is about anyone could need; an understated vocal performance from Geoffrey propelled by mid-tempo drums, all backed by synth choirs, a busy dulcimer and rising organ chords. The effect is striking and effective, and despite never straying too far from those building blocks, songs like “Petit Soldat”, “Le Premier Souffle” and the title track all land successfully in spite of their cosmetic similarities.
The secret to none of this getting stale is in Geoffrey D’s persona as a songwriter and performer. You don’t need to speak a lick of French to get the mild bemusement that permeates “Apres Nous” or the arch tone that adds dimension to seemingly sorrowful numbers like “Je Serais Toujours”. Geoffrey is excellent at writing to his own strengths as a performer, allowing the music to play off his frequently deadpan delivery. He even manages some delicacy in the arrangement to “Je N’Avais Pas Compris” supporting a vulnerable vocal.
If Prie Pour Moi has a failing, it’s in a lack of any real forward motion. For a project that has always been pushing forward stylistically, those familiar with Dernière Volonté’s bag of tricks won’t be able to escape how samey the album can become across multiple listens. Geoffrey D has stated in interviews that he fully expected this to be the final record for the project: perhaps he himself thought of it as a terminus rather than another stop in an extended journey. If we do get another record from Dernière Volonté the question will be whether the masterful use of the familiar can escape the pull of creative inertia.