The Aylmer, Quebec four-piece band Chérie is a disarming, dreamy ensemble that marries jazz sensibilities with breezy rock feeling and a pop conviction. Formed in 2015, the band has been gracing stages across the National Capital Region including The Black Sheep Inn, Bluesfest, Megaphono, and Festival de l’Outaouais Émergent. The ethereal voice of lead vocalist Magalie Rondeau is accompanied by the charming and cultivated musical stylings of John Pinck on percussion, Jeff Gleeson on guitar, and Jimmy Major on bass. Their sound integrates fateful affect with a sanguine slant; they embrace tenderness in their music while bristling the edges of indie rock. Rarefied textures permeate the tightly honed themes that contour their recently released We’re Not Here for Long. Their five song bilingual EP emanates a threadbare purity — utterly laid back, yet laden with a muted intensity. All elements of the band work in a refined balance that gives the album the feeling of taking one long deep breath through song.
The opening track “Splinter” is representative of the band’s strength in song composition and command of texture that carry throughout the EP. Rondeau’s captivating voice accompanied with only guitar open the track, giving the listener an apt introduction to the band’s signature sound. The entrance of the rest of the band members galvanizes the ensemble, propelling the song into the catchy, foot tapping domain. Major’s swell work on the bass features prominently, and brass accents foreground the song’s distinctly jazz feel.
In “Change”, the lulling lead vocal is braced with auxiliary male harmonies. The rock feels run deep in this tune and is perhaps the heaviest song on the EP. Rondeau showcases the strength of her voice pitted against the plugged in and distorted guitar and more driving use of instruments in the tune. “Change” features an assertive full band entry at the outset, yet retains the bluesy and atmospheric feel that saturates We’re Not Here for Long. The build through the song grants Rondeau’s chimeric voice the ability to glide from dreamy expression into a sultry cry. This song showcases the band’s ability to pivot between the intangible and earthly while capably maintaining their signature sound.
The closing track, “Stuck” begins with pared back vocals and guitar melody that succeeds in dancing on the surface of the song. Expressive builds and hazy tones intimate a kind of ardent penitence that dilates throughout the course of the tune. The whole tune is driven by oscillating movement that drifts between catchy harmonized vocal punctuations, pensive verses, and propulsive choruses. Notable is Pinck’s subtle but sophisticated percussion work is ever present, but subdued, rooting the rolling tide of the song.
Chérie has a singular sound that definitely stands out in the Ottawa scene. The album is laudable for its intimate energy and execution, but doesn’t compare to the live energy that this band exudes from the stage. Chérie is known for their live performances, and their live show is not one to be missed if you’re looking to hear something fresh and visceral.
Though the EP was published online in July, Chérie is hosting an official EP release party on Friday, September 22 joined by Trails, at Happy Goat Coffee Co. (35 Laurel) at 8 pm, $10. Listen to and buy We’re Not Here for Long here. Keep up with scheduled performances on Chérie’s Facebook and website. And keep an eye out for their highly anticipated full length album coming in the near future.