Okay so let’s all ignore for a second that if we closed our eyes this could easily be the hidden track on Soviet Kitch; the UK vinyl version that if you play at 72 rpm backwards reveals something very special. It doesn’t and it isn’t so let’s move on because dudes, we’re all Regina Spektor fans and we all (boys and girls alike) feel like we’re in with a chance and you’re not the first teenager to discover the ‘old material’.
But shock! I’m a Fantastic Wreck isn’t the work of the goddess that is Regina! These wonderfully quirky sounds is the work of Sydney’s own Montiagne and man, does she know how to make a first impression.
Sorry Regina, we have a brand new crush. Montaigne’s creative songwriting is charmingly earnest and is without a doubt a talent to watch in 2015!
Montaigne, known to her mother as Jess Cerro, first popped up on the radar back in 2012 as a finalist for triple J’s Unearthed High. After being a sensible student she took time off music to study for her HSC, and since then she has returned to the studio to record the sweeping debut EP Life of Montaigne which is now available at your nearest friendly record store.
Now don’t get the wrong idea; Montaigne is not just a another carbon copy of Spektor like so many others. Yes, the resemblance is uncanny but Montaigne is unmistakably her own entity. She’s challenging, she’s inspiring, she’s as refreshing as a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day, and she’s in our very own backyard. The fundamental difference between the two is that Montaigne is much better at forming the song’s narrative from herself and building around it, while Spektor would do things the other way round. Not to say either is better, they are both wonderful. But the name in the title is Montaigne, so let’s just focus on her.
I’m a Fantastic Wreck to put it bluntly, is fantastic. I usually try to be a little more clever with my puns but lets not beat around the bush for this one. Taken from the Life of Montaigne EP it is the second single and from the get-go Montaigne manages to craft a song that is engaging, intriguing and mesmerising. Opening with Montaigne’s voice, sparsely plucked strings and harmonised backing vocals I’m a Fantastic Wreck quickly establishes its quirky and poetic tone.
As the song progresses the piano and drums stumble into the room, then immediately leave as if they happened upon a party they weren’t invited to. It is a very clever way to build the tension of the song and manages to steer the track away from being stock standard folk-pop. As she sings “I’m a fantastic wreck” the drums and piano crash together in an untuned mess. It’s not bad musicianship, it’s creative and effectively portrays Montaigne’s state of mind within the narrative of the song in that moment. As she stumbles and jerks forward the song becomes more comfortable and builds to an endearing crescendo as Montaigne repeatedly sings “Will you love me?”
Indeed, love is a very strange, confusing and sometimes exhausting phenomenon which is something that Montaigne captures incredibly well with I’m a Fantastic Wreck. Her earnestness is inexplicably charming and for this writer, that is the greatest joy in listening to her over and over and over again. Yes Montaigne, I do love you.
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