Coeur de Pirate is the musical alias of 22-year-old Montreal-based chanteuse and piano prodigy Béatrice Martin. Blonde is her second album as a solo artist. One must admit that on first listen, the extremely polished, saccharine pop is almost too much to bear. It feels like drinking a pint of maple syrup.
This is unabashedly CBC-ready, foot-tapping CanCon, sounding like a less-snotty Quebecois version of Amy Winehouse; it will be gobbled up by a large number of people who are into that kind of thing, as the millions of hits on her YouTube videos will attest. Whatever makes pop music popular, Blonde is totally full of it.
Blonde is predominantly a break-up album. Martin has not-so-subtly hinted that the album’s creation was largely fueled by the disintegration of her short-lived and well-publicized relationship with Bedouin Soundclash‘s Jay Malinowski. The lyrics (all in French) come across like a personal folded-up note from Martin to Malinowski that the teacher reads to the whole classroom. There are a lot of vague references to other girls, being lied to, and so on. The lyrics are best when exhibiting Martin’s canine teeth, as in the pricelessly brutal line from the single, “Adieu”: “You make love in two thrusts.”
Martin is undeniably a skilled (and extremely photogenic) songwriter and performer, but her performance on Blonde feels restrained and pent up like a fake smile. One wonders how she would sound if she delved into the raw nerve-endings of her heartache and anger and unapologetically released it upon her unsuspecting pop audience.