It’s fitting that Catherine Debard’s solo moniker, YlangYlang, is also the name of a flower that blooms from tropical trees. I say this because her latest album, Interplay, evokes absolute serenity. It manages to unfurl vibrant instrumentals on warm beds of sound, placing you in the same humid conditions her artistic namesake thrives in.
What makes Interplay so special though, is how life-affirming it remains in the face of emotional adversity. Amidst its gorgeous sound palette lies Debard’s lyrical flair for introspection. On “Limitless,” Debard presents a meditative approach to processing heartbreak. She sings with an unflinching calm: “I’m humble, I’m porous, I know I can flourish.” It’s in moments like this that Debard becomes a wise mentor peacefully encouraging self-reflection.
It’s refreshing to hear music that documents personal growth in such a guided and reassuring way. At first, it might be easy to write off as unnecessarily cerebral, as a lot of art examines romantic grief through more immediate or aggressive means. However, this album is so meticulous in both its themes and presentation that it feels nearly impossible to deny its soothing influence. No other track better encompasses this than “Our Provisional.” A hypnotic synth arpeggio works in tandem with muted strums from a nylon-string guitar, weaning off as Debard declares “if you’re looking for me, I’ll be by the water/I’ll be aimlessly, carelessly sprawling on the ground.”
Interplay is a stunning display of texturally focused production and genuine comfort. It’s been said time and time again that albums like this help “melt away” the winter months, but it’s rare for a record to combat both the literal and mental grey of mid-winter. Interplay is a collection of music that doesn’t just exude matureself-empowerment, it seemingly grants it at a time when some listeners might need it most.