Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul
On its beguiling 2022 album Topical Dancer the Ghent, Belgium duo of Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul blur the line between fizzy, dancefloor workouts and incisively humorous critiques of racism, patriarchy, sexism, and PC culture. The pair has worked together for several years, even though its first release, a 2019 EP called Zandoli was issued under Adigéry’s name. They deservedly get equal billing on the newest album, trading bons mots and witty observations in English, French, and Creole over slinky, infectious electro-grooves.
As critics have noticed, there’s something about the duo’s sensibility that recalls the dark excesses of the Electroclash movement that made Miss Kittin and Felix da Housecat early-2000s nightclub favorites, but the sarcasm here references something much more pernicious and pervasive than the snark of their predecessors. “It Hit Me” focuses on moments of lost innocence, when the protagonists realize uncomfortable truths about sexuality. On “Esperanto” the duo offer tongue-in-cheek alternatives to stereotypically racist comments, delivering couplets like, “Don’t say, ‘Only a man is fit for this job,’ / Say, ‘At least you tried, Karen,’” and “Don’t say, ‘We need to build a wall, / Say, ‘I’m a world citizen, I don’t believe in borders.’” On the other hand, a banger like “Making Sense Stop,” engages in witty wordplay, juggling the order of the lyrics to do exactly what the title suggests.
As Pitchfork noted about the album, “Instead of chastising (or, god forbid, canceling), Adigéry and Pupul are more interested in gentle ribbing. The bustling electro-pop song ‘Blenda’ recasts a racist line into a memorable singsong: ‘Go back to your country where you belong,’ Adigéry sweetly intones.”