True concept albums are actually few and far between. While it can be said that The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia, or Pink Floyd’s The Wall were designed from the ground up, that’s not necessarily the case for equally mythical, yet composite, albums such as Bowie’s The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust…, or Lou Reed’s Berlin. In France, the genre established its pedigree in the 1970s with Serge Gainsbourg, then in the early 1980s with Léo Ferré. Cri d'amour by Mélanie Chédeville adds to this list of albums that tell a story through characters. Cri d'amour was produced in a seaside setting, which may explain its flowing, organic character. It is all by herself that the violinist-by-training composed, wrote and arranged this collection of string-drenched songs that recall Jean-Claude Vannier’s work for Serge Gainsbourg. The latter would undoubtedly have been impressed by Mélanie’s fine-cut lyrics and melodies that are as raw as they are sophisticated, vocalized in a sprechgesang recalling his own. The deliberately retro palette, up to the bass sound so typical of 1960s English rock, betrays an artist indebted to the creator of Bonnie & Clyde and Initials B.B. through a sensual, clear tonality. Yet, polyrhythms borrowed from the late afro-beat legend Tony Allen, and the touches of guitar, piano, percussion and synthesizers distilled here and there by Éric and Mélanie, end up giving the whole affair a resolutely atemporal color.Mélanie was sixteen with a head full of Beethoven and Brahms when she succumbed to an unexpected fascination for the world of Éric, a pianist, composer and sound engineer, who regularly delivered scores for Marc Dorcel’s X-rated films. She evokes him in L'Alpha-bêta and Le Pornographe, through whispered choruses that would suit the late Julee Cruise or Vanessa Daou to a tee, and explicit allusions to a “sword of Damocles” of “XXL” dimensions.These are not the only texts on this album that remind us of the Franco-American author Anaïn Nin’s erotic poems, a model that Mélanie willingly takes on, adding to the list of her literary influences alongside Apollinaire and his Debauched Hospodar: Some may find this album old-fashioned, which, far from being a flaw, is a credit to the fine musician that Mélanie is. Others will call it a charming album, which is not a bad way to describe it, provided that it is a powerfully relentless charm.