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“Les” by Theodor Bastard

In their latest release, a single and music video titled “Les,” indie unit Theodor Bastard continue to meld brilliant tones with inventive rhythms and cerebral lyricism that goes well beyond the realm of mainstream poetry, but longtime fans needn’t worry about a departure from their trademark sound. On the contrary, I personally view “Les” as more of a reinforcement of their established identity, and possibly a piece that could serve as a segue for new listeners into their highly stimulating sound. It’s already an interesting year for independent music, but this release unquestionably just made it even more intriguing. 

The texture emitted by the percussion in this mix is absolutely stunning, but it never impedes on the even flow of the vocal melodies – the opposite, truth be told. The drums do an excellent job of framing the lyrics and giving their sentiment a bit more weight than they would have already received. Every element here is contributing something to the larger narrative at hand, which is something I’ve sadly been left unable to say for the vast majority of American pop I’ve had the chance to review since the start of 2021 just two short months ago. 

This vocal could have been a bit louder than it is without sounding overbearing, but I think I can understand the reasoning behind giving it as muted a presence as Theodor Bastard did. By shrouding the singing in a light layer of misty melodicism, there’s a sense of mystique and untouchable catharsis that makes the tension implied by the lyrics even stronger than it needs to be. This is by far the most provocative element in the track, and one that makes the visuals in the music video (as well as the raw sense of intimacy they imply) even more intense to process and take in. 

Theodor Bastard’s prolific catalogue of music is only getting better with age and experience, and for those who might have disagreed, I believe “Les” should solidify their place in the international hierarchy of powerhouse groups once and for all. This is a very vulnerable performance, and one that comes from the same amount of deep-thinking artistic motivation as all of the band’s previous content has, and in the long run I can see where it could become one of their more highly-regarded releases simply because of how accessible its melodies are to fans both dedicated and new to the sound alike. 

Mindy McCall

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