SebastiAn
Thirst


2.5
average

Review

by Kirk Bowman STAFF
November 16th, 2019 | 19 replies


Release Date: 11/08/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mediocrity thrives in emptiness.

Sébastien Akchoté-Bozović, aka SebastiAn, a 38-year-old French producer worth over a million dollars, has been producing and deejaying since at least 2005. His production style was the natural conclusion of the late aughts' bloghaus/electroclash movement, funky basslines providing the foundation for barbed wire synths and crisp vocal samples. In 2011, a couple years after the genre had died for the Pitchfork scene, he dropped Total, an excellent and frequently overlooked peak of Ed Banger Records. Even with the mediocre reviews and general lack of (deserved) attention, it became a cult classic among the type of people who had been waiting for a sequel to Cross and Alive 2007, a touchpoint for the past decade of French house and EDM as a whole. Yes, EDM - SebastiAn's footprint is clearly visible through hundreds of Soundcloud remixes and massive festivals alike. While I would argue otherwise, most of the art field sees this kind of influence as a bad thing, as their false conception is that music that people can pump their fist to belongs exclusively to the kind of people who exclusively pump their fist. Akchoté-Bozović, who certainly belongs or at least wishes to belong more in the highbrow art world than the world of Youtube and WeTransfer (his credits post-Total include extensive work with Frank Ocean and Charlotte Gainsbourg), seems to have taken this to heart and reacted accordingly. Thirst is his misguided, confused attempt to create something that appears meaningful when he clearly had nothing important to say.

That's not how it appears initially - "Thirst," the self-titled opener, is one of his most dramatic songs ever, growing from quiet throbbing into full on bass-boosted growls by the end. With the follow-up, "Doorman," Syd and SebastiAn (a fantastic pairing) use their mutual abilities to emulate a deep and genuine sexual tension. The next couple pieces are fine b-sides, not favorites or anything but passable. Once you get to "Pleasant," his signature is still technically there, but the songwriting drops significantly. Every song either builds up and builds up and never releases (somehow more of a tease than "Threnody," a single that consists of one rising tone for 11 straight minutes before the drop) or has an underwhelming hook. "Sev" wastes Sevdalisa's potential as an interlude, followed shortly by "Sober," which has an elementary beat and basic lyrics about avoiding temptation at the club and feels tailor made for TV background music during a dull montage. "Time To Talk" is classic SebastiAn, equal parts dark and groovy, but just not enough of either. There's no breakdown, no surprises, no meticulously organized chaos.

Unfortunately for Sébastien, failing to capture his previous sound is not nearly the biggest problem he faces here. No, Thirst's main issue is that it doesn't mean anything. His previous works, Total in particular, acted as a mission statement, revealing his sense of passion through nail-biting tracks and a universal aesthetic. Despite lyrics ranging from angry incomprehensible yelling ("Doggg") to horny love tunes ("Love In Motion") to literally just the words "huge vagina" on loop ("Huge"), there was a commonality to it that is absent here, a danger and edge. He waited 8 years for his next point, and what is it? I have no idea. Maybe I'm missing something, but at least on a musical level, the range of emotions here is wide and disjointed. Most songs have little to nothing to do with each other, a vague sense of grandiosity the only real tie. For example, "Handcuffed to a Parking Meter" is silly and theatrical, which is fine, if anything else on Thirst felt the same way. But nothing does, and it's frustratingly obvious that it was just tacked on for the Sparks feature, completely interrupting any semblance of a flow towards the epic conclusion. And more importantly than any specific misplaced track is just how little energy there is. Not only does it not work together, but it feels tired, uninterested. It sounds less overstuffed and messy and more like a label obligation, something to make a quick buck or to get the fans off his back. That last goal, unfortunately, will probably be a success. The cover art to Total solely featured a dimly lit and highly saturated photo of Sébastien making out with himself, intimate and controversial. Thirst is a different affair, an understated color photo of him beating himself up with a bored expression on both of his faces, surrounded by a white border. It's not a statement, just a facsimile of one, which is extra disappointing when he used to be so good at them. The truth is, we're never getting what we want.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


1066 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

tldr its ok but not up to the bar he's set

critique welcome

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


29819 Comments


Lovely stuff granite, love how you kick off with such a detailed contextual mapping before launching into analysis like you're chopping a carrot. Gonna go ahead and not check it though ;]

although actually to literally just the words "huge vagina" on loop ("Huge") this for real, and should it be heard?

Trifolium
November 16th 2019


19897 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Oh nice, didn't know he has a new one out!

Slightly hesitant because of this rating though...

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


32292 Comments


Great review. Album is a joke

Slex
November 17th 2019


10542 Comments


Bet this honks, can’t stand this dude tbh

Digging: Palm Reader - Sleepless

TheMightyScoop
November 17th 2019


1543 Comments


cover looks like a mediocre intro scene for a gay porno

Aberf
November 17th 2019


3519 Comments


Whoa, it's a shame for this then since "Total" is filled with bangers

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2019


12967 Comments


Sounds like you nailed it Kirk, doesn't look like my thang regardless

WretchedCacophony
November 18th 2019


2004 Comments


"cover looks like a mediocre intro scene for a gay porno"
never in my life could I have come up with that conclusion. Glad someone figured it out

Digging: Akhlys - Melino

Trifolium
November 18th 2019


19897 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

He definitely has that vibe going on agreed. Debut cover was a clear enough indication.



Although he explains it himself as being a reference to artists and famous people having to be narcissistic or willing to make out with themselves.

Trifolium
November 18th 2019


19897 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Omg hahahahahaha

The beginning of this video does it even more so!

https://youtu.be/-kyAucCCiRI

klap
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2019


12330 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is disappointing but he still slays live, jazzed to see him next month

FadedSun
November 18th 2019


2371 Comments


Have no plans to listen to this, but wtf is that album cover.

klap
Staff Reviewer
November 20th 2019


12330 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don’t understand all the vocal features on this lol, I guess I respect him giving so much screen time to some under the radar artists but no one comes to a SebastiAn record for pretty vocal melodies

Asdfp277
November 20th 2019


23038 Comments


is this dude gay

added tracklist

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2019


15264 Comments


Having this artwork on the frontpage gives me a weird feeling

Digging: Akhlys - Melino

klap
Staff Reviewer
December 19th 2019


12330 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

saw him last night, guy still brings the HEAT live



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhSmjoU6CBs

DanGnu86
February 10th 2020


1 Comments


Well written review, but don't agree with you. Also think you have sort of missed the point of the album cover as being a progression from the first.... Seeing as the cover for Total is him making out with himself, and now he's punching himself in the face. I think he's being self deprecating and reflecting on him being an arrogant prick in his younger years.

Love Total, but it's a far less cohesive album than this. For me, Thirst has more consistency in the production and overall feel, less reliant on heavy electronica and shock value and more reliant on better written songs.

Total undoubtedly has more bangers contained within though.

I'd give them both 3.5.

someone
June 1st 2020


1211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm not sure I entirely agree with the review. The idea of 'meaning' within an album is quite subjective. I came in (granted, not being familiar with Total yet) expecting to hear electronica, pop and electropop and came away thoroughly entertained. I doubt SebastiAn's intention was to create a cohesive experience, but rather to showcase his talents as producer, songwriter and dj. In that regard, my only bother is that it is not marketed as a compilation or a mixtape. Outside of the overall production style and repeating musical motifs, the tracks are connected only by their being placed on one record. So I'd argue that you fell victim to expectations that, in my view, weren't warranted. It's a fun pop producer making fun pop songs who made a fun pop album.



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