Cultural appropriation. Misogyny and racism. Social media vanity. Post-colonialism and political correctness. These are not talking points that you’d ordinarily hear on the dancefloor but Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are ripping up the rulebook with their debut album Topical Dancer. The Ghent-based duo, who broke out with their 2019 Zandoli EP, are rare storytellers in electronic music: they take the temperature of the time and funnel them into their playful synth concoctions – never didactic and always with a knowing wink.
Their debut studio record – which cements them as a duo under both their names for the first time and is co-written and co-produced by Soulwax – is both a triumph of kaleidoscopic electro-pop and “a snapshot of how we think about pop culture in the 2020s.” It captures Charlotte and Bolis’s essence as musical collaborators and the conversations they’ve had over the past two years on tour, as well as their perspectives as Belgians with an immigrant background, Charlotte with Guadeloupean and French-Martinique ancestry and Bolis being of Chinese descent.
Beyond the album’s thematic heft, Topical Dancer reflects Charlotte and Bolis’s idiosyncratic sound: it’s thoughtful but it bangs. Their take on familiar genres is always off-kilter; songs sound undone or a little wonky; but these are nocturnal heaters to make the club throb. “We like to fuck things up a bit,” laughs Bolis. “We cringe when we feel like we’re making something that already exists, so we’re always looking for things to combine to make it sound not like a pop song, not like an R&B song, not a techno song. We’re always putting different worlds together. Charlotte and I get bored when things get too predictable.”
Topical Dancer is fizzing with ideas – there’s certainly no filler among its 13 tracks. But above all, perhaps, it has a restlessness, a desire not to be boxed in and to escape others’ narrow perceptions of who they are. It’s summarised by the refrain of their new single, ‘Blenda’: “Don’t sound like what I look like / Don’t look like what I sound like.” “One thing that always comes up,” says Bolis, “is that people perceive me as the producer, and Charlotte as just a singer. Or that being a Black artist means you should be making ‘urban’ music. Those kinds of boxes don’t feel good to us.”
On Topical Dancer, it’s less about finger pointing or being dogmatic about all the things they speak about. It’s about emancipation through humour. “I don’t want to feel this heaviness on me,” says Charlotte. “These aren’t my crosses to bear. Topical Dancer is my way of freeing myself of these issues. And of having fun.”
Topical Dancer, released March 4, 2022 on DEEWEE.
Artists: Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul
Release: Topical Dancer
date: March 4th
Format: Vinyl | CD | Digital
- Bel DEEWEE
- It Hit Me
- Ich Mwen (with Christiane Adigéry)
- Ceci n’est pas un cliché
- Huile Smisse
- Making Sense Stop
- Thank You