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We Are Enfant Terrible – Explicit Pictures

Maria Turauskis


Explicit Pictures is the debut album from Parisian trio We Are Enfant Terrible. Made up of two guys and one girl, WAET create synth-pop laden with numerous sounds from a re-programmed Gameboy. Whilst their music could be described as similar to the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Friendly Fires, the huge amount of 8-bit samples (as opposed to synth timbres) used in their work really places their initial album within the chiptune genre. At present, chiptune seems to be a rather European musical enterprise, with little interest or development of the genre within the UK. To me this lack of interest in chiptune is rather strange; considering the resurgence of analogue synth usage in electro-indie in the past five years, chiptune, with its lo-fi, rudimentary timbres seems the logical conclusion to the development of the genre.

Unsurprisingly, synth samples are the dominant aspect of Explicit Pictures. WAET have selected numerous interesting synths and sound effects with a very Nindendo feel. Aficionados of 1980s’ video games will probably recognise the idiosyncratic, cute, popping sounds from on the likes of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The album does additionally feature traditional band instrumentation though, most interestingly the use of live acoustic drums with little sampled percussion. This is not typical of chiptune, and gives the music more of an indie-pop vibe. It also contains a subtle but continuous guitar presence. Not initially obvious due to the prominent nature of the synth timbres, the guitars are vital and interesting, adding a subtle transcending vibe that makes Explicit Pictures valid music and not just gimmickry. Male and female vocals are also present throughout the album, displaying humorous lyrics and some catchy choruses. For me the female vocals work is better, containing a soft, seductive and very French enigmatic quality which is entrancing and not unlike the style of Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadie.

This is an interesting album – enjoyable in a quirky, pre-digital fashion. There are plenty of catchy tunes (Wild Child and Filthy Love are particularly good in this respect), and WAET are clearly accomplished, sensitive musicians and arrangers. However, I cannot help but feel that their music is placed within a developmental cul-de-sac. Whilst I very much enjoyed Explicit Pictures, and like the chiptune genre generally, I do not see how it can develop further and progress with new offerings. As the key aspect of this music is archaic samples that have a definite place in history, chiptune feels like a dead genre. WAET will need to be very resourceful if they are to continue the development of their work with future releases.