I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you have never heard of Lisa Papineau, yet would venture to guess that you’ve at least heard her voice before. As the lead singer of the band Pet, she gained acclaim for appearances on the Crow: City of Angels soundtrack, a cover of an Olivia Newton-John song for a Rock for Choice compilation, and a signing to Tori Amos’ Igloo label. Later, she became the ubiquitous voice of bedroom electronica, a la Imogen Heap and Sia Furler, by lending her talents to M83 and the Air tracks “Surfin’ on a Rocket” and “Biological.” But finally, after more than ten years in the wings of the projects of others, Lisa Papineau is taking center stage with Night Moves, which is not a Bob Seger covers album, but instead her remarkable debut album.
What is remarkable about Night Moves is how utterly spare and minimal it is. Each song mostly consists of two instruments and Papineau’s soothing as herbal tea voice. It’s as if she finally realized the power of her own vocals, coming to an understanding that they are the true instrument, not to be muddled with busy overdubs or excessive noise. It’s a lesson that could have easily been learned from from former mentor Tori Amos who often relies the simple sounds of the piano and her own breathy voice to create atmosphere and emotion. Whether she’s lulling the listener with the light tinklings of a piano and subtle drums (“The End of Desire”), mesmerizing with slightly menacing, then laid back electronic beats (“Shucking. Jiving.”) or getting her Postal Service on (“LP Beat”), Papineau manages to entrance with every track, finding various ways to seduce you with her honeyed voice.
Night Moves is like a soundtrack to a movie that exists nowhere but in Papineau’s mind, or in the mind of her audience. The title ends up being more than apt as it is the perfect accompaniment to that late night after dinner drink with your honey. As soon as the album gets to its seventh track, “What Are We Waiting For?”, young couples will be asking just that question, losing themselves to each other, all set to the seductive music of the onetime Vermont resident, and now adopted Parisienne, Lisa Papineau. Consider it the female equivalent of your best Barry White record. Aw yeah.