Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Charlotte Adigéry – Bear With Me (and i’ll stand bare before you)

Homophones, to two decimal places.


Claire Biddles: “Bear With Me” begins with a false promise: a thrilling few seconds of anatomised sound that quickly loses its nerve. Instead of exploring the potential of deconstructed disco, Adigéry falls back on a familiar beat. Her lyrics follow a similar pattern: dreamlike images (“They say there’s dolphins in Venice”, a reference to a 2020 internet hoax) punctuate a navel-gazing monologue about missing relationships, and working on art while the world is on pause. Its cringey references to livestreams (they “weren’t part of the dream”) and people gasping for air (yikes) make it clear that this is Pandemic Pop. We can go round in circles arguing whether it’s wrong to make the pandemic/lockdown/This Moment In Time the subject of art — because it’s distasteful, or will date almost immediately — but ultimately I just don’t think it’s interesting. The relentless parallel boredom and emotionality of the moment cancel each other out, clashing violently in our heads everyday and leaking out as dull grey nothing. And so it is with music. At least for the moment, a pop song can’t hope to emotionally move us by retelling the hell we’ve been living through. “Bear With Me” just exists, something else to add to the empty conversation of the day. Even the (non-parenthesised) title sounds like something you hear on a zoom call you’re only half paying attention to while trying to ward off a midday breakdown. I understand there’s limited material to draw inspiration from, but I wish Adigéry had pushed further in to (lyrical and musical) surreality — surely a form which holds more space for emotional and artistic resonance at the moment.

Will Adams: Pandemic pop has been a mixed bag. The few singles that have directly addressed it are either terminally cloying or terminally cynical. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have artists like Charli XCX and Taylor Swift (twice), lauded for efforts that were often designated as “quarantine albums”, a somewhat alienating concept that reads as music’s equivalent of “Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a plague” (the subtext being “so what’s your lazy ass doing during lockdown, hmm??”). Charlotte Adigéry’s approach is far more direct, and as a result it works way better. “Bear With Me” confronts the swirling thoughts of an artist who’s had their world and livelihood whisked away head-on: creative burnout (“livestreams weren’t part of the dream”), the anxiety that follows such burnout (“will you forget about me?”) and reluctant optimism (“we are growing closer as the world drifts apart”). As with her excellent 2019 EP Zandoli, Adigéry’s co-production with Bolis Pupul and Soulwax conjures a dramatic club backdrop, with swooping strings and dense percussion building slowly over four and half minutes. “Bear With Me” is likely to age poorly once this is all over. For now, it’s refreshing to hear some honesty about what it’s been like the past thirteen months.

Alfred Soto: Her 2019 EP — as fresh as spring air — remains one of my favorites in recent years, and “Bear With Me” matches its best material. Dependent on a bass sequencer hook, I was imitating for hours, Charlotte Adigéry positions herself as a person in need of music as much as she needs sexual healing. “Livestreams weren’t part of the dream,” she sings, yet without not sounding beat-up about it. 

Ady Thapliyal: The sound of Adigéry’s Zandoli EP was sleek and trendy microhouse; “Bear With Me,” on the other hand, leans more into the Soundcloud R&B Adigéry releases under her solo project, WWWater (“Charlotte Adigéry” is technically a duo composed of herself and producer Bolis Pupul). As is typical for the genre, the synths are generic, the production is underdone and the percussion is canned. Adigéry tries to breathe life into the track by the time the second chorus rolls ’round with little touches of string, 808 handclaps, and gated reverb snare hits, but nothing works. Sorry, Adigéry, but I think this one’s dead on arrival.

Dorian Sinclair: “Bear With Me” is an intricate little puzzlebox of a song; I love the way Adigéry gradually brings in instruments — the percussion and those multitracked sighs hold things together as all the while more layers are built up around them. It’s precisely this meticulous construction that makes the brief bridge two minutes in feel out of place, though. Everything else is iteration on a theme, spiraling upward with increasing complexity. Taking a twenty-second break halfway through fractures the structure in a way that pretty severely damages the overall impact. That said, you almost forget about the interruption by the end of the song, and those final seconds (particularly the closing gasp and abrupt finish) really are excellent.

Iain Mew: I can imagine a song where the wordplay of the chorus and the more direct “we are growing closer as we watch the world drift apart” combine to make something that fits well. Just not one where they’re both taken as flatly as this. On the other hand, that same flatness and the big open spaces between the fancy clumping bass make room for the screeching swoops of strings to do their thing, and that’s worth a fair bit.

Ian Mathers: I love the way the strings are introduced; the random-seeming dissonances eventually merging with the more conventionally sweeping ones, all meshing wonderfully with the burbling tones and Adigéry’s very charismatically wry and topical performance. 

Scott Mildenhall: Extremely on-the-bottlenose — perhaps already dated, given that reference, but its hypnotic blur of waiting, waiting, waiting while others run out of time feels nevertheless fresh. Gradually, automatically accumulating layers, it develops into a hermetic waltzer — the formal encapsulation of everything it sets its stall about.

Nortey Dowuona: The cycling bass over the pedestrian pod people drums created by the Dewaele brothers and Mr. Zeebroek are sturdy enough, but Charlotte considers her options with her partner or her fans in general very unsteady and possibly close to collapse. (And since I have her last EP in my library and didn’t know until I checked, she has every right to worry.) But this song is sticking to my ribs. Let me take an inhale.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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