Review: Estès “Urban State”

Estès “Urban State”

08 Mar, 2011 Zack Daggy

Urban State is an EP of moods.  Estès has the innate ability to turn music and melody into pure emotion.  Very few bands possess this ability, and even fewer pull it off quite so majestically.  Urban State isn’t just an album; it is an experience.

The first song on Urban State, “1973 Whisper,” is an electronica infused alternative rock track.  After only a couple moments, the listener is immediately drawn in by the haunting vocals and rich melody.  Lead singer Frédéric Leroux holds a reserved power to his voice, never belting out during this song.  He doesn’t need to. He’s a natural who mesmerizes the audience with utter charisma.  A broad range of musical influences can be heard throughout this song.  It has the moody rock style of Incubus, the raw guitar talent of Audioslave and the melodic power of The xx.  To put it simply, this song is incredible!  The only thing that listeners may not necessarily dig is that the lyrics are so heavy with symbolism that they are nearly impossible to understand.  The Eagles got away with such cryptic lyrics in “Hotel California,” so it is possible that fans may be as forgiving in this case as well.

Up next on Urban State is the piano ballad “My Townhouse Life in Philadelphia.”   The mood is thick with a very dreary yet elegant vibe about it.  A song like this could easily veer off into becoming downright depressing, but again the sheer charisma of Leroux makes this song captivating.  The very soft-spoken style that he sings in gives it an extraordinarily intimate feel.  It simply radiates with heart and soul.  Despite the use of an unnecessary vocal filter during the title line of “My Townhouse life in Philadelphia,” and the cryptic lyrics, this song is nearly perfect.

To add a touch of an international feel to this EP, the third track “Chaloir de décembre” is sung entirely in French.  Despite the language barrier, this piece is still able to reach well beyond the ear and capture the heart.  Leroux’s smooth vocals combined with this song’s melodic new age vibes create a sound that is pure paradise.  If winter had a sound, it would sound like “Chaloir de décembre.”  The music is crisp and haunting, at times taking on the electric energy of Moby, but never losing its ethereal feel.  It is elegant and exquisite; the very definition of serene.

Urban State concludes with the dreamy new age instrumental “A Darkened Pacific.”  Listeners will easily find themselves getting lost in the music. This the type of song that you can play at the end of a hard workday, and it will instantly melt away all of your stress.  Add some candlelight, and this song is just right for the perfect romantic evening.

Urban State is one of the best-produced albums in recent years.  Estès knows how to strike the perfect balance between vocals, mood and melody.  They’re powerful, but never over the top; smooth, but never boring; charismatic, but never cocky.  This is a band that doesn’t create music; they create magic.  Anyone that buys this EP should prepare to be amazed.

Review by Zack Daggy
Rating:  5 stars (out of 5)