Avant que l'ombre...
|Avant que l'ombre...|
|Studio album by Mylène Farmer|
|Released||4 April 2005|
|Genre||synthpop, pop rock, Europop, house, trip hop|
|Mylène Farmer chronology|
|Singles from Avant que l'ombre...|
Avant que l'ombre... is the sixth studio album by Mylène Farmer, released on 4 April 2005. Mainly composed of acoustic ballads, this album produced five singles which were all top ten hits in France, including "Fuck Them All" and "L'amour n'est rien..."
Background and release
|— Refrain from "Avant que l'ombre..." that appears on the digipack|
"Avant que l'ombre" marked Farmer's longest break between studio albums, following "Innamoramento" by exactly six years. As such, the album was, perhaps, the most anticipated of her career. Rumours of the disc began circulating in 2003 when it was revealed that Universal was planning a new release of Farmer for the fourth quarter; however the project turned out to be Farmer's second remix album. By the end of 2004, Universal's President Pascal Nègre confirmed that Farmer would release an album in the following months, stating then that it would be a double album. Persistent rumours continued to circulate including the possibility of duets with artists such as Benjamin Biolay, Diam's and Lara Fabian.
In December 2004, Farmer held a major press conference with longtime collaborator Laurent Boutonnat in which she confirmed the upcoming release of the album, including the title, and announced a series of concerts to coincide at Paris Bercy. After several postponements, the album's release was pinned for 4 April 2005. Contrary to Nègre's previous comments, the album was a single disc with 14 titles, which remains the largest number of songs on a Farmer album, and an additional hidden track entitled "Nobody Knows". On this album, Farmer abandoned the American musicians who had previously worked with her since Anamorphosée, and reunited with several musicians with whom she had worked in her early career.
The digipack version, first limited to 2,000 units, is composed of the CD and a DVD containing the making-of of the music video for "Fuck Them All" with commentaries by director Augustin Villaronga. The album was produced in a triptych version, with a central section that unfolds itself in the shape of a cross to discover the booklet in which the order of the lyrics is not the same as that of the songs. The refrain's lyrics of the eponymous song is put forward within the digipack. The various photographs of the booklet were directed by Dominique Isserman, and cost about 85,000 euros. Isserman also made the cover's photo, on which Farmer appears lengthened, "asleep as Sleeping Beauty on an ochre and shades of red background". Around the neck, she is wearing a cross made with two matches.
On 28 March, a competition organized by the NRJ radio allowed the winners to listen to the album in its entirety alongside Pascal Nègre and Mylène Farmer. The Virgin megastore and the Fnac ot[clarification needed] the Champs Elysées also organized a special deal with album's sales after midnight. The album was released twice: first on 4 April in the collector version, and then on 18 April in the traditional version for the general public.
The album was supported by a series of 13 concerts at Paris-Bercy in January 2006.
Lyrics and music
According to Laurent Boutonnat, Avant que l'ombre... is more acoustic and electronic than the previous ones he had produced. A newspaper said: "The style is the same, but the sounds evolve: more acoustic sounds mixed with electro and keyboards. Farmer sings with a voice more natural than usual". Ouest France stated that the album is "a continuation of the singer's discography", but with a "certain calm in the prose" and a "majority of ballads". In this album, Farmer's voice is "filled with softness and fragility". For one of the first time, she sings in low notes.
The album deals with the "apprehension of a woman facing the death with after all the satisfaction to have loved". It mainly talks of sex, death and religion. The lyrics are "slightly disturbing", "sometimes important", and there is some "humor". About the album content, Farmer said: "I very selfishly continue to talk about me, my shadows, my lights".
The journalist Benoît Cachin considered that Avant que l'ombre... was less sophisticated than Farmer's previous albums. He said that among the subjects tackled are religion, literature, sexuality, a hope for a better life, a happy love, revolt, dream and self-mockery. Although he deemed the album "consistent and uniform", he added that it is confusing due to the "particularly abstruse" lyrics, including many puns and literary references unknown to the general public.
Some critics thought the album did not contain any big surprises: "Farmer's voice is still light, fragile, sometimes quavering" to better evoke emotion. The piano gives the tempo but the strings dominate to create "a labyrinthine atmosphere". Caroline Bee believes that the album is too similar to the previous ones and lacks innovation. The album is a "distressing repetition of her old hits" (Actu02). "Disappointing", with "ethereal chords", "songs stretched and similar" (Télé Star). "Her album is not revolutionary. (...) Certain chords are even fuddy-duddy. (...) A mixed success" (Télé 2 Semaines). "Nothing is very surprising nor really new. Always this voice on the wire, at the edge of the crack. Always this dark romanticism bathed in mystical, erotic, and morbid image more or less woolly" (Le Journal du dimanche).
According to Rolling Stone, this album has a "great sweetness" but "ultimately suffers from a major flaw: it is the sixth album of an artist from whom everyone expects too much". On the whole, the album was well received in the media, particularly by the French newspaper Le Monde which stated: "The singularity of the musical and thematic universe of Mylène Farmer, is not overturned, but refined. (...) The whole aims to a luminous power. (...) [In the lyrics], Mylène Farmer is calmer, almost beaming, melancholy with a smile". Voici qualified Avant que l'ombre... as an "intimate album" and underlined the "quality of the lyrics".
The album was rewarded with the title "Best Album of the Year" in 2005 at NRJ Music Awards.
In France, Avant que l'ombre... became the singer's fifth number-one album, debuting atop the French Albums Chart with nearly 150,000 (Gold) units sold in the first week. Although Farmer did not promote the album, it remained at number one for three non-consecutive weeks, alternating with Grégory Lemarchal's album, Je deviens moi. Avant que l'ombre... logged in more than two months in the top ten, and 23 consecutive weeks in the top 50 before sliding down the chart later in autumn, which partially resulted from the six-month difference between the release of the second and the third singles. It re-entered in the top 20 in January after an intense advertising campaign, an interview on TF1 and the concerts at Bercy. The album ultimately logged a total of 77 weeks on the album chart. In spite of a good chart trajectory, the album did not reach the sales of Farmer's previous studio albums, which were all million plus sellers in France. The album was certified Platinum, then Double platinum on 6 July 2006. It was the eighth best-selling album of 2005 in France.
In Belgium (Wallonia), the album also debuted at number one on 16 April and remained there for six consecutive before being dislodged by Raphaël's Caravane. The album remained in the top ten for fourteen consecutive weeks. As in France, the album experienced a resurgence, thought less pronounced, in early 2006. The album logged a total of 31 non-consecutive weeks on the Belgium album chart and was certified Gold album. The album ranked number five on the 2005 year-end chart.
In Switzerland, the album debuted at number two on 17 April, then dropped quickly and fell off the top 100 after 11 weeks.
In non-Francophone Belgium (Flanders), the album had a peak at number 48 on 23 April 2005.
|#||Title||Length||Performance(s) on tour(s)||TV performance(s)||Comment|
|1||"Avant que l'ombre..."||5:55||2006 tour||No||See main article "Avant que l'ombre..."|
|2||"Fuck Them All"||4:32||*2006 tour,
|No||See main article "Fuck Them All"|
|3||"Dans les rues de Londres"||3:50||2006 tour||No||This song is a tribute to Virginia Woolf, a British writer whose novels Mrs. Dalloway and The Wave and the letter she wrote to her husband just before her suicide are evoked in the lyrics. The themes of life, death, love are tackled.
The song was considered by fans as one of the best tracks on the album, and rumors had announced its release as the fifth single from the album.
|4||"Q.I"||5:20||2006 tour||No||See main article "Q.I"|
|5||"Redonne-moi"||4:22||2006 tour||Symphonic Show, France 2, 12 November 2005||See main article "Redonne-moi"|
|6||"Porno graphique"||4:16||2006 tour||No||The song, full of puns and with esoteric words, deals with themes related to sexual practices, and is a praise of sexual freedom. In the words, Farmer cites the words of a journalist who had qualified as "porno chic" the photos in the booklet of the best of Les Mots. At the end of the song, Farmer sighs, and then says without singing: "T'as pas un p'tit Mojito ?", before bursting out laughing.|
|7||"Derrière les fenêtres"||4:02||No||No||Hard to understand, the text seems to be a tribute to unknown people who remain in the shadows.|
|8||"Aime"||4:32||No||No||This song is a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, whose vocabulary, puns and techniques it uses. It also cites the title of a 1969 song written by Gainsbourg: "L'Anamour".|
In this esoteric text, Farmer evokes her passionate love that makes her suffer, and for the first time, she specifies the location of this memory of love, namely Palermo.
|9||"Tous ces combats"||4:00||No||No||This ballad touches on the interior fightings which Farmer is forced to face. She also declares she expects the love that will enable her to be more serene.
This text refers to a work by Paul Verlaine, Les Poèmes saturniens, one of whose sections is entitled "Mélancholia" (a term used in the refrain of the song).
|10||"Ange, parle-moi"||3:40||2006 tour||No||In the song, Farmer addresses an angel asking him of not dying. She seems to make reference to Satan, his pride and greed in the couplet.|
|11||"L'amour n'est rien..."||5:03||*2006 tour,
|No||See main article "L'amour n'est rien..."|
|12||"J'attends"||5:20||No||No||In this optimistic song, Farmer confesses she is happy to be in love, but nonetheless she expects that love will take her away and overcome her in a very close relationship.|
|13||"Peut-être toi"||4:45||2006 tour||No||See main article "Peut-être toi"|
|14||"Et Pourtant..."||4:35||Timeless||No||In this song, Farmer refers to the fact that she will die sooner or later, but she seems to be relieved to have known love, although she suffers.|
The singer performs many notes in very high tones and the music is very sweet, putting forward the singer's voice. It is the most acoustic song of the album.
|141||"Nobody Knows"||4:43||2006 tour||No||Lyrics are not easy to understand. According to Cachin, the music is both melancholy and worrying.|
1 Hidden song
Certifications and sales
|France (SNEP)||2× Platinum||570,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- CD — Digipack 1
- Collector casket — Format 12" - Limited edition (5,000) 1
- Double 12" 2
- CD — Taïwan
- CD — Japan 3
- CD — Promo — Japan 4
- Cassette 5
1 + 1 DVD containing the video and the making of of "Fuck Them All"
2 Near the centering of one of the two vinyls is engraved the phrase "Quel talent Lolo, vingt ans après", in reference to Laurent Boutonnat
3 "Nobody Knows" features as 15th track and its lyrics are available in the booklet
4 "Nobody Knows" features as 15th track
5 Not contains "Nobody Knows"
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