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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mi & l’Au

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

The bad news barraging our culture at mid-decade encourages a lot of looking inward for comfort, of finding solace in romantic escape. Vashti Bunyan’s recent return to recording is no surprise; her placid folk music is a healing salve for our collective social wounds. Mi & l’Au’s self-titled debut isn’t as powerful as the Bunyan reissues or this year’s Lookaftering. But the Finnish-French couple’s skeletal indie folk bliss contributes to that shift toward escapism. Their backstory includes tales of halfhearted modeling, wandering through Paris, busking with Devendra, and retreating to forest cabins where they bliss out in love-dipped solitude. It all seems a little too perfect, too New Hippie, and Mi & l’Au’s basic format of a monotonal female whisper floating over twining acoustic notes and the occasional cello, coed vocal or toy piano overdub runs flat when the songs lose their buoyant center. But there’s no denying the hushed, retreating beauty in “How,” “Nude,” “Philosopher” and “Boxer,” or the duo’s understanding that there’s safety in simplicity. Mi & l’Au’s influences and peers (Bunyan, Espers, Joanna Newsom) have made more affecting music. But this debut is important as another quiet salvo against the world’s constant ugly blare.

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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