Review: Stromae – ‘L’enfer’

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L'enfer offers something new to an already incredible diverse discography that Stromae has established

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Stromae‘s musical presence is one that only ever continues to grow. From the dance classic ‘Alors on danse’ to the mesmerising word-play of ‘Papaoutai’, ‘L’enfer’ may not be Stromae’s most complex of songs, but it is one of his most personal and beautiful outings yet.

‘L’enfer’, which translates to ‘Hell’, is the grounding of song wrapped in melancholic struggle and an inescapable sense of futility. It’s heavy, moody and remarkably stripped back, with its melody in the verses largely guided by a constant shift and arrangement of piano chords. The song builds in a typical Stromae style, but it resists a sense of overindulging or turning it into another iconic dance track. ‘L’enfer’ is nothing but personal to Stromae, and the musical arrangement he builds around it only exemplifies that, whether that be the distorted style of ensemble signing or the warped electronic synthesis that occurs in the chorus. There’s also this constant dichotomy and juxtaposition between the sentimentality and painful reality in the lyrics, most poignantly when Stromae sings:

‘J’ai parfois eu des pensées suicidaires
Et j’en suis peu fier
On croit parfois que c’est la seule manière de les faire taire’.

However, the song maintains its emotional core until its final words, never reaching a conclusion and feeling all the more haunting because of it. Despite all this though, its heavy themes only ever reach a feeling of catharsis because there’s something primal in both the songs use of a choir and the expressional thrashing that accomplishes Stromae’s movements in the music video. While wrapped in sentiment, it’s not a baren and hopeless song. In fact, it’s mesmerising and powerful – and my favourite Stromae track to date.

‘L’enfer’ is available to listen to now via Mosaert Label. Watch the music video below:

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Previous News Editor (20-21) and now The Editor (21-22) just trying to make his way through the world of journalism... (trying being the keyword here).

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