Review: Petite Meller – Lil Empire

CD. Island Records

If bands could musically beget children then those children would, like their flesh and blood counterparts in the real world, display not just some of the musical characteristics of their parents but probably some of their inherent eccentricities as well. In which case the YouTube-proclaimed ‘Aryan pedo nightmare’ that is the French phenomenon Petite Meller would be the love-child of the hippy-dippy band Gong circa 1970.

Miller is 22 with an MA in philosophy, a fabulously distinctive and accented gallic vocal sound, which, when coupled with her Lady Gaga style theatrics and personal raison d’être to turn “libidinal unconscious dreams” into reality while flirting with terrorism, race and Lolitaesque sex, make her hard to ignore. This anarchic approach to life, which The Guardian dismissed as pop with a “creepy aesthetic”, comes alive in Meller’s videos, where, usually scantily clad, cheeks rouged in pink blusher and blandishing a variety of inappropriate props, she cavorts and dances her way though a series of improbable landscapes that have included; a Kenyan village where she danced with the local school children and kissed a giraffe for Baby Love,  New York City for Backpack, a geriatric rest home in Florida for Barbaric, and, most recently, she played with reindeers and the local tribesmen in the grassy plains of Mongolia for her latest single, The FluteThe Flute also sees Meller wearing a grass skirt and a pointy hat that, has, metaphorically at least, Gong, written all over it.

unnamed-2While this global dancing has upset some who see it as ‘cultural appropriation’ and worry that Meller’s white flesh denotes a hidden racism when displayed next to her black co-dancers in videos like Baby Love, Meller undoubtedly has a unique visual style that is rapidly becoming her own signature and the only hidden massage it really displays is a true celebration of being alive.

Now, having spent the last twelve months or so releasing one infectiously dancey pop single after another, Meller has released Lil Empire, an equally quirky and contagious album. Almost every track is filled with a delirious pop sound; Milk Bath (cute and bonkers), America (like Baby Love only more so), Argentina (softer, with the merest hint of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita), Geez (fab, play it to death) as well as all of her previously released singles. This is an album brimming with joie de vivre and a fabulous, almost gospelish pop sound that demands to be played loudly, again and again. Pointy hats optional.